Which Bible translations are best for prisoners, and how do you get Bibles to them? That's a question often asked by volunteers who want to share God's Word.
First, it's helpful to realize that in-prison Bible study groups are different from most Bible study groups at your church. While it's true that many prisoners can read well and are knowledgeable about the Bible, some in your group may struggle with reading and comprehension skills.
READING AND COMPREHENSION
To better serve prisoners and ex-prisoners, volunteers should expect that many have very low reading skills and may never have owned a Bible. Here are some statistics:
- Over half of the adults incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons cannot read or write and
have less than an eighth-grade education.
- Incarcerated adults in the U.S. have among the lowest academic attainment and literacy rates,
and the highest disability rates.
- Of all federal and state inmates, only 41 percent have earned a high school diploma or GED.
Based on these statistics, volunteers need to be sensitive when asking someone to read Bible verses aloud. Those with lower reading skills often struggle and feel embarrassed. If you know a prisoner reads at a lower reading level, consider using one of these Bible translations:
- New International Readers Version or NIRV—grades 3 or 4
- Easy to Read Version or ERV—grade 4
- New Century Version or NCV—grade 5.6
- Contemporary English Version or CEV—grade 5.4
PROVIDING BIBLES FOR PRISONERS
If a volunteer wants to provide a Bible for a prisoner, we do not recommend mailing new or used Bibles directly to a prisoner since most facilities only allow publications that are shipped from approved sources, and the package will likely be denied.
Prison Fellowship has partnered with Tyndale to develop the Inside Journal Life Recovery Bible and optional workbook. Available in English and Spanish versions, this large-print, New Living Translation Bible is a unique tool that brings "Twelve Step" recovery back to its original source – God's Word.
The Inside Journal Life Recovery Bible and workbook are available to prisoners for FREE. Volunteers can connect with the facility's Chaplain to order in bulk, or direct individual prisoners to mail in a request for a single copy. Volunteers can direct prisoners to mail their request to:
Tyndale House Publishers, Attn: Inside Journal Bible, 351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
Include this information to make sure the Bible and/or workbook get delivered:
- Prisoner's complete name and prison ID number
- The facility name
- The facility address for prisoner parcel delivery
- Whether the prisoner would like the English or Spanish Bible
- If the prisoner would like to add the workbook in English or Spanish
Limit one Bible order per person. Orders can take several weeks to process and ship.