Prison Ministry Introduces Pen Pal Program

By Nancy Nonini
Social Justice Action Team-Prison Ministry

Do you know why 4:15 p.m. is the most exciting time of day at Perryville Prison for Women (ASPC – Perryville)? It’s Mail Call. Women rush to see if they get a letter. Others never come out because they don’t want to face yet another day without a letter. A letter in prison is an “envelope of hope,” according to Sue Ellen Allen in her book, The Slumber Party from Hell.

Women who have pen pals are less likely to go back to prison after re-entering society. Matthew 25 Prison Ministry (originated through Red Mountain United Methodist Church in Mesa) has provided pen pals for 264 inmates at Perryville; 128 have become “returning citizens” and only four have returned to prison, giving Matthew 25 a return rate of 3.1%, as opposed to the national recidivism rate of over 50%.

Since our Arouet Foundation Storytellers Breakfast in Your PJs, we have filled 5 Starter Kits for women being released from Perryville, and at least 2 people have expressed interest in becoming pen pals. Luckily for us, Matthew 25 Prison Ministry will provide a Zoom Pen Pal training on Friday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. You can access this presentation on the Bridges page under Social Justice Action Team/Prison Ministry. This event will be recorded if you want to view it but are not available at the scheduled time. Please email Nancy Nonini at with any questions or for a Zoom invitation.