The overwhelming majority of prison inmates never get family visitors. They are truly God's forgotten people. For valid security reasons, prisons set rigid visitation rules re: eligibility, day, time, and length of visit. These rules are often subject to change without notice, making visitation difficult. The few family and prison ministry visitors are all subject to the same rules.
Consequently, inmates look forward with eager anticipation to these visits.
Although two thirds of prison inmates are functionally illiterate many inmates crave reading materials, books, pamphlets and prayer books. Unfortunately these are considered contraband unless they are mailed in directly from the publisher or bookstore. This generally requires family involvement or a source of funds from somewhere else.
Sadly, most are left with no outside contact and must fend for themselves. Inmates without the benefit of funds for the purchase of personal hygiene items (deodorant, toothpaste), stamps or packet of instant coffee from the prison canteen leads them to the realization that no one cares about them. Acceptance of that fact by the inmate, produces loneliness and despair and breeds bitterness and a separation from goodness. It is so easy to see the "suffering Christ" in these inmates. The rigid rules for visitors do not permit anything to be brought in (nothing in / nothing out).
In 2006, recognizing these problems and a lack of programs to build self-esteem as a hindrance to ministering to the inmates, an ordained Roman Catholic Deacon, assigned as a Catholic chaplain to the prison, sought a solution to these problems. With the support of a local judge and few dedicated prison ministers, he founded The Saint Dismas Prison Ministry Foundation, an Internal Revenue Service qualified 501-C3 charitable corporation.
The Saint Dismas Prison Ministry Foundation, registered with the State of Florida, was established to raise and disburse funds that will directly benefit prison inmates and ministry to them without regard to their religious affiliation.