Questions & Answers

What is the mission of Deaf Prison Ministries (DPMN)?

“Deaf Prison Ministries Network shall be organized to meet the needs of Deaf people who are directly or indirectly affected by crime, including organizations in the restorative process, according to Christian principles.”

Is DPMN a charitable organization?

Yes, DPMN is a non-profit charitable corporation organized under the laws of Illinois, USA and is physically located in Willis, Texas, USA.The organizational roots go back to 2000; however, DPMN became a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with tax exempt status in the United Statesin May 2004 and successfully completed the standard probationary period September 2008.Fully audited, DPMN is listed as a charitable organization on DonorHouston and Guidestar.

How and why did DPMN come into existence?

DPMN was born out of a burden for the lack of services and ministries to the Deaf incarcerated in America at the request of Prison Fellowship in 2000. In 2000, during the D-E-A-F conference in Lisle, Illinois, a task force was formed and met over a period of two years to brainstorm and develop a national ministry to the Deaf who are in prison.

We recognized the great need for resources, training, assistance and general information to help the many individuals and churches effectively reach the Deaf in prison in their local areas. This ministry was subsequently named Deaf Prison Network (DPN) and became formally established in 2003 with the launch of our first conference.

In 2004, DPMN emerged from the success of DPN to more fully respond to the critical needs of the Deaf affected by crime and seeks to serve them as a way to improve our society and the lives of the Deaf. DPMN formally organized as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization when the bylaws were drafted to better reflect the purpose of the ministry which incorporated in 2004.

Deaf people who are affected by crime represent one of the most under served groups of people in our country. Deaf people who find themselves in the judicial process often lack equal access to services and proper communication in order to adequately represent themselves. As a result, our nation’s correctional facilities find themselves with a small population of frustrated inmates whose needs are not adequately being met.

Traditionally those needs have fallen on the hands of a sympathetic cellmate, a caseworker or the correctional institute chaplain without much success in fully meeting them. More often than not, Deaf inmates will go through their entire sentence without ever having their needs meet. Research has shown that over 90%, Deaf inmates will return to prison after release.

It is estimated that there are about 6 to 10 thousand Deaf inmates in America's prison system and we have identified only a handful of individuals and ministries with any focus on reaching out to the Deaf in prison. Those individuals and ministries are often working alone and have little or no resources available to them.

What services does DPMN offer?

We’ve successfully established ourselves as the premier provider of services with a three-fold purpose for its existence: Networking, Development and Ministering. These three purposes together define our vision.

  • Networking which we do with faith based prison ministries, churches, social service agencies, government agencies, legal organizations, Deaf advocacy organizations, and prison facilities to promote awareness of and to meet the needs of Deaf people who are either incarcerated, formerly incarcerated or have relatives who are either incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.
  • Development of research and materials to be used for the purpose of promoting, educating and training organizations or people so that they can become better equipped to meet the needs of the Deaf who are affected by crime. The material and training will be publicly available to anyone who requests them.
  • Ministry to the Deaf who are affected by crime to meet their personal, emotional, spiritual and physical needs where legally appropriate. This will be accomplished by utilizing our network to reach out to them as well as provide an aftercare facility to help previously incarcerated Deaf people to be re-integrated into society.

While DPMN will continue to operate and expand the vital networking and referring, our scope is broadening to allow us to reach all Deaf people who are affected by crime in any manner. We have identified the need to drastically expand our services, increase our direct work with the Deaf, and deepen our focus on research and development. This includes advocacy, education, prevention, rehabilitation, and community reintegration; and, incorporates interpersonal, personal and spiritual growth and maturity.