jail bars The Shackle  
Mission Statement:
Partakers works to help advance the rehabilitation of inmates and to bridge the divide that separates those inside and outside prison.  Through its College Behind Bars mentoring program, inmates build trusting relationships, enhance skills critical to completing a college degree, and significantly increase their chances for success when returning to the community.
Please support the work of Partakers by making a donation now!  


  • The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world: we have less than 5% of the world's population but nearly 25% of its imprisoned people. 
  • The U.S. prison population has increased 400% in the past 20 years.


  • Ninety-seven percent of incarcerated individuals return to society, yet only ten percent receive substantial rehabilitative programming while in prison.


  • At the current rate, one in twenty Americans will be incarcerated at some point in their lives.


  • In 1980 about half the people entering state prison were violent offenders; in 1995 less than a third had been convicted of a violent crime.


  • Half the inmates in the United States are African-American. Thirteen percent of the US population is African-American.


  • Of the 80,000 women now imprisoned, about seventy percent are non-violent offenders. Seventy-five percent have children.


  • An incarcerated person's chances of succeeding once they leave prison increase exponentially if they have a college degree. The average recidivism rate is 60%: with a degree, it is less than 11%. 


     In the News:

May 2010

December 2009 (page 5)

October 2008

October 2007

January 2007

November 2005

May 2005

Spring, 2004

April 5, 2004

November 2003

    December 20, 2003

  • Provide opportunities and support for inmates in Massachusetts to obtain four-year college degrees in prison.


  • Advocate for humane prison environments and sensible programs that foster accountability, responsibility and rehabilitation.


  • Encourage prisoners to exercise their authority as members of a community both while in prison and in the neighborhoods to which they will return.


  • Serve as a source of education and information on the prison system and on issues of criminal justice and criminal justice reform.


  • Negotiate with prison authorities to increase the reach of educational and rehabilitation programming for prisoners.


  • Recruit, train, support and supervise community volunteers and prisoner volunteers to serve as models, mentors and leaders.


  • Provide individuals, faith communities, seminarians, and graduate students with information, access, supervision and support in prison settings.


  • Initiate and maintain rehabilitative programs.


  • Foster trust and mutual respect among partakers.


  • Provide educational opportunities to heighten the citizenry's knowledge of criminal justice issues.


  • Seek financial and human resource support to sustain and enhance Partakers' programs and initiatives.


230 Central Street
Auburndale, MA 02466
617-795-2724 (fax)

Arthur Bembury,



Board of Directors

Volunteer Opportunities for Office Support

We must accept the reality that to confine offenders behind walls without trying to change them is an expensive folly with short term benefits - winning battles while losing the war.
- Former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger

In prison we are stripped of our humanity and hope; however, when people come in from the outside, their recognition of our humanity gives us hope and keeps us connected to society at large.
- Former Inmate


The greatest confinement is not behind the walls of concrete and steel but inside the walls of our own prejudices, selfishness, and indifference. Until we tear down those walls, we too are doing time.
- Prison Volunteer, Harvard Divinity School



Partakers is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization which relies on your contributions.

Partakers is co-founder of the SMART on Crime Coalition, partnering with CJPC - Criminal Justice Policy Coalition, FAMM -  Families Against Mandatory Minimums, The League of Women Voters, Massachusetts Chapter, MOAR - Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, NASW - National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter, and New England Policy Advocates.

Partakers is honored to be listed in The Catalogue for Philanthropy for the year 2002.

About the photograph: Title: The Shackle  Photographer: Reginald L. Jackson, Ph.D. Copyright 1976; many images courtesy of Alex Guerrero and Harvard Students for Prison Reform.

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