During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ taught that His disciples minister to those in need, including those who are imprisoned. He taught that “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of many faith and community organizations that work together to help those affected by crime and incarceration. We minister and care for those who are victims of crime (see “Help for Victims of Abuse Overview”). We are also invited to follow the example of Jesus Christ by ministering to and caring for those who are in prison or jail and their family members (see Matthew 25:35–40; Mosiah 18:8–9).
Church leaders throughout the world consider the needs and resources in their areas and provide help where appropriate. When possible, Church members can choose to volunteer their time to hold worship services and classes for incarcerated individuals on religious education, addiction recovery, family history, and self-reliance. The central teachings in all of these efforts are the restored truths of the gospel and the hope that comes through Jesus Christ. When individuals are released from prison or jail, members may help them live the gospel, find employment, secure housing, and reconnect with family (as appropriate and as they follow the conditions the court has set).
As part of its humanitarian efforts, the Church donates more than 50,000 volumes of Church literature to prisons every year. It also collaborates with other faith groups to support worship and educational centers in prisons and community initiatives to help those who have recently been released.
The Church encourages its leaders and members to act with compassion toward those who were previously incarcerated and to support them in their efforts to repent, establish healthy patterns for successful living, and return to the Church (see section 32, “Repentance and Church Membership Councils,” in General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
For more information, email PrisonMinistry@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Scripture Study Resources
Topical Guide, “Accountability”
Guide to the Scriptures, “Chasten, Chastening,” “Grace,” “Justice”
Messages from Church Leaders
Prophets and Apostles
Other Church Leaders
“Providing Support for Those in Correctional Facilities,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“One of the Least of These,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org
Lawrence E. Cummins, “How Love Scales Prison Walls,” Ensign, February 1973
Laird Roberts, “The Catharsis,” New Era, July 1982
“Finding Freedom,” Ensign, September 2004
David A. Albrecht, “Inside Prison Walls,” Ensign, December 1995
Heather McPhie, “Come Back, Heather,” New Era, January 1991
Becky Young, “Remembering Those in Prison,” Ensign, August 2010
Terry J. Moyer, “Free to Believe: Prisoners Welcome the Gospel into Their Lives,” Ensign, February 1982
“Power to Change,” Liahona, June 2010
S. Brent Scharman, “Real-Life Changes inside Prison Walls,” Ensign, December 2013
In the News
“Service Helps Inmates Look beyond Themselves,” Newsroom
Heather Whittle Wrigley, “Prisoners Rescuing Prisoners: Indexing at Utah State Prison,” Church News, October 28, 2011
“Mormon Women Help Incarcerated Mothers Connect with Their Children,” Newsroom: Canada, March 6, 2013
“Church Helps Children, Patients, Prisoners and Refugees,” Newsroom: Pacific, August 12, 2015
“A Second Chance at a Future through Deseret Industries,” Newsroom, October 14, 2008
“Latter-day Saint Inner City Project Blesses Lives of Thousands,” Newsroom, March 21, 2012
“Bridges to Self-Reliance: Delores Hubbar, On the Road to Self Reliance,” Inspiration Channel
“Where Can I Turn for Peace?,” Hymns, no. 129
“Be Still, My Soul,” Hymns, no. 124
“I Need Thee Every Hour,” Hymns, no. 98