Prisoner or Patients Ministry Community and Connections

A ministry dedicated to the intersection of mental health care and the criminal justice system.


Current programming:

July 18th at 1pm-2:30pm: Taskforce on juvenile justice; speaker information coming soon.

Please visit the tabs below to learn more about the various teams and history of this ministry.


For more information, contact Ruth Deckenbach.

In late 2019, Prisoners or Patients was charged with developing a mentor program for those leaving prison with mental health concerns.  The Prisoners or Patients Mentorship Program will link mentors of The Basilica of Saint Mary in partnership with re-entering citizens identified by either the Minnesota Department of Corrections or Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation. The trained mentors will accompany the participants re-entering the community, who are struggling with mental health challenges, and who have expressed a desire for a spiritual connection. These mentors will walk with the participants and help them access resources that will decrease their isolation and assist them as they re-engage and re-connect within the community.

Individual Session Form

Mentor Application Form

Prisoners or Patients? is a group of volunteers who come together to discuss issues around when the criminal justice and mental health systems connect.  The group is made up of members of The Basilica’s Mental Health Ministry, its Voices of Justice Ministry, and the larger Twin Cities community.  The committee has worked in partnership with NAMI-MN, Minnesota DHS, Hennepin Healthcare, Minnesota State Legislators, Amicus, Minneapolis College, and other organizations. Begun in 2017, this task force has provided educational programming, advocacy efforts, and resource development for the parish and the community at large.

In 1019, this ministry was tasked with developing a mentor program for individuals coming out of jail or prison. Our mentor program continues to grow today, and we are always looking for new mentors!

Our advocacy team is dedicated to deepening our understanding of the complex issues at the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system, both for ourselves and our parish community. Our members select areas of focus to delve into, equipping themselves with knowledge to advocate effectively.

Notably, our team has supported NAMI-MN's initiative to eradicate solitary confinement in Minnesota. Additionally, we advocated for the implementation of a crucial law mandating Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for all law enforcement officers, ensuring they are equipped to handle mental health crises with sensitivity and expertise.

The Advocacy Team meets monthly in the months leading up to and during the legislative session (~September to ~March), to strategize and drive meaningful change forward.

If you are interested in volunteering with this team, please contact Ruth Deckenbach.

Questions? Please Contact:

Ruth Deckenbach

Coordinator of Ministries: Access/Disability, Mental Health, Prisoners or Patients

Ruth started with the Basilica in November of 2023. She has a JD and MSW from the…