Paul Willis: Visitation and Parole Reentry Program

Fresno, CA

In 1998, Paul Willis became a leadership volunteer with Match Two Prisoner Outreach, which focused on providing a prison visitation and mentoring program for adult inmates incarcerated in California. From this beginning, his work quickly transitioned into pre-release programs, prison yard outreach, chapel ministry, and, eventually, a full one-on-one parolee reentry program based in Fresno, CA. Paul and Susan Willis have housed former inmates in their home, mentored them, secured outside counseling for them when needed, employed them, and have been fully-engaged in the reentry lives of five former inmates. In addition, they have participated in varying degrees with numerous others paroling in the Fresno area. In 2002, Match Two lost their California State funding for adult prisons. In an effort to maintain the mentoring program and hold the Fresno area volunteer group together, Mr Willis launched JPW3 Outreach.

Visitation, a Vital Link to the Outside:

Paul has visited numerous inmates in Avenal State Prison, Corcoran State Prison, and Mountain Home Fire Camp, and he is currently visiting an inmate with a life sentence in California State Prison, Sacramento. Due to numerous factors, many inmates do not receive outside visits from family and friends. Often due to travel distance, economics, and, sometimes, broken family relationships, many inmates have little if any contact with the outside world. Therefore, visitation and letter-writing efforts by an outside volunteer can be a lifeline to the world outside the prison walls and razor wire. More than just a break in the routine of day-to-day prison life, many inmates will tell you that these outside visits are the only time they can let down their guard and just be a normal person.