Page 1

alpha [ for prisons ] An introduction to Alpha for Prisons & Re-Entry in partnership with Caring for Ex-Offenders

A Mission Field in Your Own Back Yard


The Mission Field In Your Own Backyard 7 Million Americans are either in jails, prisons or on probation or parole 2.5 million Americans are confined in prisons

why run alpha for prisons?

700,000 Americans are released from prisons each year, 9 million from jails

Many people in prison feel a desperate sense of loss and have a deep hunger for meaning in life. Jesus Christ is the only one who can satisfy this hunger. The Alpha Course is designed as a tool to help answer some of the questions people have about the Christian faith and the meaning of life. It is only through lives being changed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus that we can hope to reduce the crime in our world and the desperately high re-offending rates.

67% will re-offend within 3 years of release, with 40% being returned to prison

How is Alpha run in a prison? Alpha generally runs over a period of 13 weeks, although it can be presented over a shortened period of time or extended as determined by the Alpha Volunteer and Chaplain. Preferably each weekly session is 2 to 2 ½ hours. At each session there is a chance for fellowship over food and / or drinks, where possible, followed by a talk on a subject central to the Christian faith. The talk is best presented through the Alpha Course video series or may be presented live by an experienced leader following the prepared script in the Alpha publication Questions of Life. After the talk, participants divide into prearranged groups of generally 8 to 10 in which they remain for the duration of the course. These groups provide participants with the opportunity to discuss the talk in an environment where each person is free to ask or say whatever they wish. Each group has a volunteer “host” and two or three “helpers” who may be “graduates” from a previous course.

Well over $60 billion per year is spent on criminal justice Research has proven that prison programs can reduce recidivism rates and support public safety Inmates that receive visits from clergy or mentors are less likely to return to prison. 50% of inmates that take the Alpha course report making a commitment of Christ or rededicating their lives to him

“Alpha is not just a course, it is a true and real blessing. Alpha is bringing me into a rightful relationship with Christ.” Kent, inmate – Egypt To run Alpha for Prisons, please contact the Alpha for Prisons office for advice and support at www.alphausa.org/prisons.


this is A list of the tAlKs giVen on the course: • Alpha day: the holy spirit (3 talks)

• Alpha Appetizer • who is Jesus?

• how can i resist evil?

• why did Jesus die? • how can we have faith? • why and how should i pray?

• why and how should i tell others? • does god heal today? • what About the church?

• why and how should i read the Bible? • how does god guide us?

• how can i Make the Most of the rest of My life?

Questions of Life is a book by nicky gumbel, containing the material used as the basis of these talks. the Facilitators Notebook located on the Alpha for prisons web site (alphausa.org/prisons) is a compilation of Best practices in running the course in a correctional facility.

thank you so much for your interest in the Alpha course and its application to prisons. since the first Alpha for prisons course in 1995, the ministry has now spread throughout the uK and worldwide. the vision of Alpha for prisons is that every inmate will have the opportunity to attend an Alpha course while in prison and each will come into a living relationship with Jesus.

paul cowley

internAtionAl executiVe director of AlphA for prisons And cAring for ex-offenders: holy trinity Brompton - london having been a prison warden for many years i can say without hesitation that the Alpha course is an approach to evangelism which is very well received by the inmates and staff. our sole mission is to assist local churches and volunteers in establishing Alpha courses in prisons and jails across this country through partnerships of technical support and training.

Jack cowley

you will not be alone as together we bring the light of christ into the darkest places in America; our prisons and jails which truly are mission fields in our own backyards.

nAtionAl director AlphA usA prisons & re-entry www.alphausa.org/prisons


alpha re-entry model “The central argument of More God, Less Crime is that faithmotivated individuals, faith-based organizations, and the transformative power of faith itself are proven keys in reducing crime and improving the effectiveness of our criminal justice system” Byron R. Johnson, “More God, Less Crime” p. xi

Based on research by Dr. Johnson and following the model of the Prison Fellowships’ InnerChange Freedom Initiative Alpha USA Division of Prisons and Re-Entry further developed a model of re-entry which encompasses both pre and post release interventions for offenders. Numerous such Initiatives are in operation within the USA all reporting positive results in terms of ease of prison management and reduction of recidivism rates. Initiatives are collaborations of faith-based, community organizations and the prison for providing evidence based practices through modified therapeutic community practices and curriculum. Post release utilizes the tools developed through the international non-profit organization Caring For Ex-offenders (CFEO) which is operated by Alpha International: Wilberforce Trust. The model consists of offenders who volunteer to participate in the Initiative living on the same unit within the prison from a minimum of 6 to 18 months. Upon release each graduate of the Initiative is provided with support consistent with the resources available in his/her community. Following the CFEO model Alpha provides training for churches and volunteers to work with those offenders being released into the community.

For More Information how you or your church may get involved contact: Jack Cowley, National Director Alpha for Prisons & Re-Entry JackCowley@alphausa.org 918-231-8847 170609

Alpha for Prisons Intro Guide  

Alpha for Prisons Intro Guide