skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 203254 Find in a Library
Title: Chaplains: God's Partners in Prison
Journal: Corrections Today  Volume:65  Issue:7  Dated:December 2003  Pages:122-125
Author(s): Judith Coleman
Date Published: December 2003
Page Count: 4
Type: Program/Project Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the chaplains’ role in the corrections community.
Abstract: Many in corrections believe that chaplains are among the most important staff in prisons. Prison chaplains make the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution real because even though inmates have lost many other freedoms, the First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Chaplains were one of the first organized groups of corrections professionals. Chaplaincy has come a long way since the days when community clergy would visit inmates primarily to “save souls” and when the sermons were hollered down the hall to inmates locked in cells. Today, chaplains often have private rooms or offices. Inmates can be in the privacy of a chaplain’s office when they receive word of the death of a loved one or participate in weekly group pastoral counseling sessions in private rooms. Chaplains not only teach religious subjects now, but other helpful relational topics such as conflict-resolution skills. Chaplains are still the spiritual leaders behind bars, but these days, they are not always male, not always ordained, and not always Christian. The staff chaplain must have an ecumenical and interfaith spirit. Chaplains need people skills to communicate effectively with treatment staff, correctional officers, and inmates and must use spiritual discernment to balance religious needs and security. Prison chaplains provide pastoral counseling, religious teaching and preaching, lead worship for their own faith, conduct funeral and/or memorial services, give death notices, recruit and coordinate volunteers, walk death row inmates to the execution chamber, and provide family ministry to inmate mothers that keep their children with them. It is best for a warden or personnel team to acquire chaplaincy candidate names through a council of churches or interfaith commission that will check credentials.
Main Term(s): Chaplains; Correctional personnel
Index Term(s): Inmate religious affiliation; Prison climate; Prison management; Religion; Religious programs
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.