Being in prison can be a very lonely and despairing experience. Thousands of inmates become “forgotten” and abandoned by family from the outside. It is shown that the more contact that a prisoner has with the outside world, the better their chances of staying out of prison are.

ASK (Ask, Seek, Knock) Mentoring Outreach is an organization based on volunteers who are specifically trained to provide one-on-one visitation with prisoners who have no friends or family visitations and no contact with the outside world. Volunteer mentors encourage this forgotten prisoners to become productive and useful citizens so that they can have a fulfilled life union re-entry.

The success rate of ex-offenders who were involved in the ASK program is outstanding. According to their statistics, only 10% of women prisoners that were involved in their program through the California Institution for Women, have re-offended or are considered a parolee-at-large. That means that 90% of those who were mentored have served their sentences, have been or are waiting for parole discharge – and many of these women have found gainful employment. Fantastic!

“For the recruitment of local volunteers to be trained and monitored for one-on-one visitation with prisoners who have requested a friend because they receive few or no visits from the outside. Ex-offenders are mentored and encouraged through a caring relationship to become productive and useful citizens, resulting in life changing decisions for their future.”

The ASK program begins with a prisoner who seeks a friend/mentor. They are screened by ASK staff personnel, and after careful screening, they are matched with a volunteer friend who may have similar personalities and and interests.

ASK Volunteers are also carefully screened and must attend orientation and training meetings. They are then asked to commit to visit their matched prisoner twice the first month and that at least once per month for a period of six months. Letter writing and correspondence is highly encouraged during times of visitation. Many of these volunteers and inmates stay friends even after the six month commitment.

What do volunteers get as a reward for mentoring a forgotten inmate? The reward is gratification that you have helped someone who is desperately lonely by providing friendship, encouragement and personal goals. Knowing that with a small time commitment, that you have brought hope to someone’s world – is a beautiful reward.

If you would like to learn how to become a volunteer for this much needed and appreciated program, please read more from ASK Mentoring Outreach, Inc.

About Christopher Zoukis, MBA

Christopher Zoukis, MBA, is the Managing Director of the Zoukis Consulting Group, a federal prison consultancy that assists attorneys, federal criminal defendants, and federal prisoners with prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry. His books include Directory of Federal Prisons (Middle Street Publishing, 2020), Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (PLN Publishing, 2016), and College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons (McFarland & Company, 2014).

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