Back to top

Religion in corrections

Highlights are provided of advice given by individuals from correctional agencies and faith-based and community organizations on how to create successful partnerships. Sections of this presentation are: understanding each other—questions and concerns; making partnerships work; legal issues; and getting started.

A Model for Social Justice: Collaboration Between Faith-Based and Community Organizations and Corrections: Highlights Cover

“Much like our colleagues in the military and at hospitals, correctional chaplains provide pastoral care to those who are disconnected from the general community by certain circumstances – in this case to those who are imprisoned, as well as to correctional facility staff and their families when requested. Where permitted, we also minister to the families of prisoners. Each correctional chaplain is also a representative of his or her faith community and is required to be endorsed by their denominational body in order to qualify as a chaplain. Correctional chaplains are professionals, with specialized training in the unique dynamics of the corrections world. Most serve as full-time correctional facility employees or part-time contract employees.” This website provides a lot of great information about prison and jail chaplains. Points of access include: about the American Correctional Chaplains Association (ACCA); national standards regarding religious services in correctional facilities— Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), prisons, jails, and tax information for chaplains; articles; certification; news and events—general news, alerts, and the U.S. Senate Testimony on Chaplaincy and Terrorism; and membership information.

American Correctional Chaplains Association Cover

Religious programming issues are discussed. Topics briefly covered include: what is the practice of religion in corrections today; the reality of conversion; the role of the chaplain and religious program and how it relates to the agency's mission; recruitment, training, and supervision of chaplains; legal issues and religious programming -- constitutional issues and statutory changes; the interplay of religious programming and other correctional functions programs; working with religious volunteers; innovative approaches to religious programming; and action steps.

Correctional Religious Cover

This “recent outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (InnerChange), a faith-based prisoner reentry program that has operated within Minnesota’s prison system since 2002, showed the program is effective in lowering recidivism. This study extends research on InnerChange by conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the program. Because InnerChange relies heavily on volunteers and program costs are privately funded, the program exacts no additional costs to the State of Minnesota. As a result, this study focuse[s] on estimating the program’s benefits by examining recidivism and post-release employment” (p. 227). Results show that InnerChange substantially reduced recidivism, increased post-release employment, both at a savings of $8,300 per participant.

Estimating the Benefits Cover

Answers to the questions of whether successful public-private faith-based partnerships exist, roadblocks to such collaborations, and what role the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) can play in fostering such partnerships between correctional and law enforcement agencies and faith-based organizations are supplied. Sections of this report include: panel recommendations (executive summary); recommendations for action; introduction; opening remarks; participant presentations (Panel 1 -- Advocates, Panel 2 -- Resources, Panel 3 -- Correctional Administrators, and Panel 4 -- NIC Staff); final comments; and participants.

Faith-Based Approach to Correctional Issues: Report of the National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board Hearings Cover

This manual provides practical guidelines for administrators and chaplains to appropriately accommodate inmate religious beliefs and practices. It addresses specific observance issues, provides historical and theological background information, and identifies additional resources. Fourteen religious traditions are covered: Buddhism, Eastern Rite Catholicism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Moorish Science Temple of America, National of Islam, Native American, Odinism/Asatru, Protestant Christianity, Rastfari, Roman Catholic Christianity, Sikh Dharma, and Wicca.

Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices TRM  Cover

"Very few prisons have mental health treatment programs, and the few available, which range from educational to cognitive and behavioral in nature, do not have the capacity to treat chronic trauma and PTSD. The daily environment of prisons – aggressive and often violent, with any indication of vulnerability or weakness potentially life threatening – means such programs cannot fulfill the requirements of safe and effective trauma treatment, especially for processing and integrating memories … Similarly, mindfulness and meditation programs cannot provide safe and effective trauma treatment in prisons, although evidence suggests they can reduce inmates’ stress and anxiety and increase their self-regulation capacities. Here we present an approach that, although new to prison-based trauma intervention, is over 2,000 years old: an intensive, 10-day Vipassana meditation course which has been conducted inside a maximum-security prison since 2002. We briefly make the case that intensive, traditional and communal Vipassana practice makes good sense and holds great promise as a short-term prison-based trauma treatment that can provide stabilization, skills development, and safe and effective opportunities to process traumatic memories" (p. 1). Sections of this chapter include: introduction; prison culture—hyper-masculinity and violence; stages of recovery and treatment; trauma-informed correctional care; contemplative practices as trauma treatment—implications for prisoners; Buddhist psychology and Vipassana meditation; bringing Vipassana inside—the case of a maximum-security prison in Alabama; preliminary outcome research and two prisoner's reflections; conclusion and implications.

Intensive Vipassana Meditation Practice: An Intervention with Promise for Traumatized Prisoners Cover

This presentation provides an introductory overview to the masjid (prayer hall or mosque) and the religious worship of Islam and guidance for accommodating Muslim belief and practices in correctional facilities.

Islam's Place and Practice of Worship in the Correctional Environment Cover

Topics covered include: some religious issues in jails--head coverings, skirts, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and inmates claims, kosher diet, and sincere religious beliefs; Bits and Pieces—Rastafarian dreadlocks search, tobacco ban, and psychogenic polydipsia; and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) enforcement.

Legal Issues in Jails 2013 Cover

"The program addresses religion in corrections, referred to as one of today’s hottest legal topics in corrections. Our guest was Ronald G. Turner, who has served as lead consultant on the topic for the National Institute of Corrections and a variety of organizations. During the show, he addresses the conflict between myth and reality in religious programming, shedding light on the concern of chaplains and religious directors about how to meet the safety and security needs of a facility while ensuring inmates’ First Amendment rights. Balanced with discussion about the law, trends in religious programming, and the budgetary effects of religious accommodation, the show provides a brief glimpse into the complexities of religion in corrections with a broad-based view."

Religion in Corrections – National Institute of Corrections cover


Subscribe to Religion in corrections