Pat Nolan, President of Prison Fellowship. Provided this summary of a new study released in January 2012 about the impact of visitation on recidivism.

Offenders who were visited in prison were significantly less likely to recidivate. The reductions in recidivism were:

– 13 % for a felony reconviction

– 25 % for re-incarceration for a technical violation revocation

– Any visit from a mentor reduced the risk of reconviction by 29%, while a visit by clergy lowered it by 24%. Visits from certain family members and relatives also had an impact. The risk of reconviction was reduced by 10% for at least one visit with a sibling and 9% for a visit by other relatives.

– Visits closer to an offender’s release date had a greater impact on reducing recidivism.

– Inmates visited more often were less likely to recidivate.

– The larger an offender’s social support system, the lower the risk for recidivism.

– The total number of different individual visitors an offender had was significantly associated with less recidivism.

The study was conducted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections among 16,420 inmates between 2003 and 2007. This is a very large sample size, and an unusually long period to track recidivism (up to five years).

One last finding of the study merits particular attention: 40 % of the inmates never got a visit. This is very sad. Consider how intimidating it would be to face release after five years in prison and not have had contact with anyone outside prison for all those years. Where would you go to find a place to sleep? Who would help you find a job? Who would help you get to the doctor or the DMV to get a license or to your parole appointments?

OAR is there to help the many who have no one.