One to One

For over 45 years, Amicus has matched trained volunteers to individual offenders at four of Minnesota’s metro area Correctional Facilities—Lino Lakes, Shakopee, Stillwater, and Oak Park Heights. Volunteers commit to visiting, writing, and forming a true friendship with their One to One match for a minimum of one year.

Program Details

  • Volunteers and participants are matched by gender (i.e. men to men and women to women) and by whatever factors are important to both (religion, life experiences, interests, age, etc.)
  • Both the participant and the volunteer can say “no” to any proposed match.
  • The program is safe, relationship-based and meant to support, respect, and empower the whole person.
  • Volunteers should come to this opportunity with an open-heart and an open-mind.
  • The time commitment is minimal—generally between 3 and 4 hours per month.

Tearing Down Walls

Prison is all about walls. Most obviously, there’s the real, physical wall. There’s also a psychological wall, the wall that makes inmates “the other,” “them,” dehumanized and cut off from the community. Being trapped behind that kind of wall makes it very difficult for offenders to succeed at changing their thinking and building a new, productive life when they get out. The Amicus One to One program is about tearing down that wall by giving inmates the opportunity to form positive relationships with people from the community. These relationships give inmates a supportive ear to talk to, an example of how to live a productive life and help to reduce the inmates’ feelings of isolation from the community. These positive associations with the outside world can lead to reduced group recidivism rates when released in part because the relationships they form can help them look forward to their post-release lives, rather than focusing on their present punishment.

In the One to One program, inmates visit one to one with trained, same-sex community volunteers in prison visiting rooms. By extending the hand of friendship to an inmate, volunteers help inmates feel cared about, develop trust, and try out new behaviors. Though the gesture is small, it is powerful in helping inmates develop a new lifestyle. Over 8,000 inmates and 4,000 community volunteers have participated in Amicus programs over the last 45 years. We have seen many offenders leave prison and build new lives: working, supporting families, and even becoming community volunteers.

If you are an inmate who wants to build a new life, we invite you to request an Amicus (Latin for “friend”). If you are a community member who might be willing to become an Amicus volunteer, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!

Apply to be a volunteer Amicus in the One to One program by completing the Volunteer Application (Word format) and returning it to the Amicus office. You will then be contacted by an Amicus staffperson to arrange for an interview. We want to get to know you so we can make the best match between you and an inmate looking for a One to One friend.

Throughout the entire process Amicus will be there to help you through, providing One to One support groups and annual volunteer recognition events in which you’ll get to know some of the over 200 other active One to One volunteers.

Words from our participants…

“Because of my Amicus I have lost something I held very dear: my cynicism. Because of his wonderful encouragement, I realize that society hasn’t failed me, I failed society . . . . I now believe I can enter society with a good outlook, knowing there will always be a friend for me.”

“Prison teaches you not to trust or rely on others, but my Amicus teaches me that there are people who can be relied on and trusted.”

“I’ve been incarcerated for 13 years and had begun to lose touch with people of society. This only tends to make a person hard on the inside. My Amicus has changed all that. In him, I see the good I thought no longer existed. Thank you for making me feel like a person again.”

For further details about the Amicus programs, visit our Programs page.

Benefits of having an Amicus friend:

  • Social contact: someone to visit you once a month and talk about mutual interests.
  • Contact with a positive, uplifting, trustworthy person.
  • Support for the changes you are trying to make in your life.
  • Someone to listen to you.
  • Help as you think through problems, find solutions.
  • Someone who cares about you, roots for you, and wants you to do well.
  • More Info

Interested? Follow the following steps:

  • Call Amicus to tell us you are interested in One to One.
  • Talk to Amicus staff about the program.
  • Attend a one evening program training.
  • Get interviewed by Amicus staff about your characteristics and interests and what you are looking for in a match.
  • Amicus calls with a match option that fits your criteria (at any time, the volunteer or inmate can express concerns about the match and discontinue the relationship).
  • Write letters of introduction.
  • Begin monthly visits at the prison. There is a minimum one-year commitment to the relationship.
  • More Info

We look forward to hearing from you!

One to One is funded by a combination of private donations, state and federal grants. All services are offered free of charge to participants.