Nation’s Largest Prison Ministry Announces Charles Colson Hope Awards

On 40th Anniversary, Org. Honors Founder’s Legacy with Five Awards for Those Who Champion Restoration and Reform

Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners and their families, announced today the creation of the Charles Colson Hope Awards to recognize people who have faithfully and courageously worked to restore those affected by crime and incarceration. Colson, the disgraced Watergate conspirator whose crimes related to the scandal resulted in a prison sentence, became a Christian shortly before serving his sentence and went on to found Prison Fellowship in 1976.

Announcing the inaugural year of the awards during this time of year is especially poignant for the organization and Colson’s family. On any given Easter after his release from prison, Colson could be found back inside celebrating the Christian holiday with prisoners. Colson spent more than 35 Easters behind bars with those incarcerated.

The general public is invited to nominate people for each category. Nominations are now being accepted for the five award categories:

  • The Charles Colson Advocate of Hope award honors a person with a record of faithful and winsome advocacy for restorative criminal justice reform—a person whose leadership blazes a trail toward a future of proportional punishment, constructive prison culture, second chances and safer communities.
  • The Charles Colson Restorer of Hope award honors a person who, with sustained compassion for the terrible weight borne by the families of the incarcerated, has come alongside them to help carry their burden, share God’s love and offer hope for restoration.
  • The Charles Colson Servant of Hope award honors a person who has brought the message of hope, redemption and restoration into correctional environments. Whether as a prison administrator, policymaker or volunteer, the awardee has demonstrated servant leadership in changing the culture behind bars, making prison a place of renewal and second chances.
  • The Charles Colson Champion of Hope award honors a person whose life has been directly impacted by incarceration—either as a former prisoner or as the child of an incarcerated parent. Overcoming obstacles and opposition to realize their God-given potential, the awardee is now making a full-circle significant contribution, helping others also affected by crime and incarceration.
  • The Charles Colson Legacy of Hope award honors a person or foundation that has invested faithfully and generously in the restoration of those affected by crime and incarceration, thus enabling the ministry to make significant advancements in its mission.

Posthumous nominations will also be considered. Nominations will be received until 5 p.m. ET on April 29. Final recipients will be announced on Aug. 9, 2016, on the 40th anniversary of the incorporation of Prison Fellowship. To submit a nomination, visit

“Our family is delighted to honor those who continue our father’s legacy of bringing hope and restoration to those affected by crime and incarceration,” said Chris Colson, son of Charles Colson and a Prison Fellowship board member. “We are excited to announce the Charles Colson Hope Awards during this Easter season—our father’s favorite time of year—as Christians around the world, in prison and outside prison walls, celebrate the joy and hope found in Christ.”


About Prison Fellowship

Prison Fellowship was founded in 1976 by Charles Colson, a former aide to President Nixon who served a seven-month prison sentence for Watergate-related crimes. Today the faith-based nonprofit is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform.