The Prisoners’ Friends’ Association

23 Aug

pfa

The Prisoners’ Friends’ Association (PFA) began in 1982 at the suggestion of the Commissioner of the Correctional Services Department (CSD). It was founded to recruit volunteer prison visitors to visit prisoners who had no one visiting them.

PFA’s aim is to give a service of friendship to prisoners and their families by providing regular visits, correspondence and meeting legitimate needs. By this means their aim is to help the prisoners and their families to cope with the imprisonment and to work towards rehabilitation and adjustment to society afterwards, and thus to contribute to a reduction in crime. Within the context of being a Prisoners’ Friend to suggest, encourage and support measures to improve prison conditions and the welfare of the prisoners and their families,

PFA is a voluntary organisation. It is run by an elected Executive Committee. It is not aligned or related to any religious body or other organization. Although the visitors’ pass is issued by the Correctional Services Department and Police and although PFA has to co-operate with them and abide by their rules, the association is an independent body.

What you can do to help
Become a Prison Visitor. For being a Prison Visitor, you need to apply for a pass which allows you to enter any prison in Hong Kong and have an open visit with a prisoner. Before such a pass is issued, it is necessary for the authorities to carry out a security check on you. In fact it is the same check that is applied to those who work inside the prisons. No formal qualifications are required. The main qualification is the ability to be a good friend. Prison Visitors are of different nationalities and religions. They are from all walks of life, of different ages and with varied interests. No specific qualifications are essential to join the association though obviously some people are more suitable than others. Applicants are required to complete application forms. It is a unlikely that anyone with a prison record will be permitted to visit prisons here and so he/she would not generally be issued with a pass.

Become a Pen Friend. Letters mean a very great deal to those cut off from the world in a prison environment. Brightly colored, or interesting cards can bring joy and do not take too long to write. Letters and cards are evidence to the prisoner that someone has thought of him, someone cares and there is a contact outside to whom he can respond. Furthermore, other prisoners look down on a prisoner with no letter whiles, those with mail and visitors are looked up to. So by writing to a prisoner, who previously had no letters, you can open an unexpectedly wide dimension to their lives.

For more information about membership and the application processes, please visit PFA’s website.

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