How We Help

Support for People in Prison

We believe that everyone deserves support and compassion, regardless of their charge. We provide a continuum of support to incarcerated people, from their time in prison through their return to the community.

1 to 1 Assistance

Each week, we receive dozens of requests for help from incarcerated people who are in need of medical attention, experiencing violence, trauma, or abuse, or who require assistance navigating an issue with their facility.

When we receive a request for help, we dispatch a staff person or volunteer prison monitor to listen, problem-solve and, if merited, advocate for help with prison officials. Our legal right to connect with any person at any facility in Pennsylvania means that no incarcerated person in the state is out of reach. We are able to assist people at both state and county facilities, communicating candidly and regularly with prison administrators, staff, and other stakeholders to transfer vital information and escalate concerns.

We are also a reliable source of information, with hundreds of incarcerated people writing to us each month looking for resources or clear explanations of prison policies. If we don’t know the answer, we can connect you with a partner who does. Incarcerated people can write to us directly or have a loved one contact us to request assistance or information.

Please note, we are not a legal organization and cannot provide legal advice or assistance relating to an individual’s case and sentence.

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Preparation for a successful return home begins on the inside. A staggering 34% of people released from prison will return to prison within a year.

Our mentoring program is designed to help ease the transition from incarceration back to communities, by focussing on supportive community connection during and after incarceration. We believe in fostering positive social engagement and positive relationships, not only to help people stay out of prison but also to improve their wellbeing.  Currently, our mentoring program is offered 6 months prior to release for men incarcerated in SCI Chester and SCI Phoenix who are returning to the Philadelphia area.

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Graterfriends Newsletter

Since 2002, the Prison Society has published Graterfriends, a newsletter created for and by incarcerated people in Pennsylvania. Prison life is not only hidden from public view, but it is also incredibly isolating for people living it.

Graterfriends serves as a critical vehicle to shed light upon prison life in the Commonwealth, allowing incarcerated people to communicate—to one another across facilities, and to their loved ones—about what’s happening within their prison, how it impacts their lives, and what matters most to them. Graterfriends is released bi-monthly and available to be shipped to both county and State Correctional Institutions.

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Support for Incarcerated Parents

For decades, the Prison Society has been helping incarcerated parents, both to parent from behind bars and to prepare for reunification with their families.

Our goal is to provide incarcerated parents and their co-parents with the knowledge and understanding they need in order to stay engaged with their child’s life while incarcerated. Our curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of people parenting through incarceration.

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Peer Support Groups

Whether you’ve been home 10 years or 10 days, our peer support groups are available to you. They offer a forum for discussion, information exchange, guidance, and peer mentoring, all facilitated by mentors with lived experience in the criminal legal system.

Our peer support groups provide perspectives on how to navigate the realities of reentry, and are focused on anti-poverty, job readiness, and employment. Groups meet monthly and focus on a topic like reconnecting with children or job searches. The atmosphere is warm, supportive, and casual as people talk, and offer advice, support, and understanding. Participation is flexible. Contact us and let us know if you are interested in joining a group.

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“Thank you to the entire Graterfriends team for all the love, support, motivation, and inspiration that ya’ll have bestowed upon me throughout my incarceration. You all have brought fluorescent light upon me through some of the darkest times” -DAVID, GRATERFRIENDS CONTRIBUTOR AND RECENTLY RETURNED CITIZEN