Correctional Ministries and
Chaplains Association

CMCA Code of Ethics

Introduction and Overview:

Members of CMCA are united to provide the highest quality of spiritual care to those who are incarcerated, have been incarcerated or detained, family members of the incarcerated, those affected by injustice, and those connected to correctional care. CMCA members are committed to providing spiritual care that is representative of the biblical model found in Jesus Christ's ministry. As a collaborative team of evangelical Christian caregivers, CMCA desires to more effectively build the Kingdom of God and help humanity secure greater peace and safety (Ephesians 4:16, 3 John 1:8).

CMCA recognizes that the role definition and work setting of its members includes a wide variety of ministry settings, academic disciplines, and levels of life preparation. This diversity reflects the breadth of its interest and influence. It also poses challenging complexities in efforts to set standards for the performance of members, the desired requisite preparation of practice, and supporting spiritual and ethical controls.

The conduct of CMCA members, both publicly and privately, has the potential to inspire or demoralize people. The specification of ethical standards enables clarification to CMCA members as well as those served. These ethical responsibilities address the behavior of members in both their professional and personal relationships.

This Code of Ethics does not presume to provide answers to ethical questions. It does establish a set of professional standards that help members' articulate values and delineate boundaries by which ethical questions can be discussed and evaluated. It also gives expression to the basic values and standards of correctional volunteers and professional chaplaincy, guides decision-making and professional behavior, provides a mechanism for professional accountability, and informs the public as to what they can expect from professional CMCA members.

CMCA reserves the right to remove membership from those who fail to adhere to this Code of Ethics.

Ethical Principles for CMCA Members

A correctional ministry or a professional chaplain embodies responsibility, integrity, and competence. Therefore, CMCA will:

  1. Respond to the unique needs of individual members while keeping in focus the common needs of its membership as a whole.
  2. Treat members with dignity and justice.
  3. Steward the material and monetary resources entrusted to it, using sound fiscal practices and maintaining accurate financial records.
  4. Embody integrity in marketing practices.
  5. Avoid conflicts of interest, including even the appearance of a conflict of interest.
  6. Avoid and not participate in any form of unjust discrimination: respect the age, culture, diagnosis, disability, economic status, ethnicity, gender, social and religious diversity of all persons served by CMCA.
  7. Advocate for professional accountability and work performance that protects the public and advances professional chaplaincy.

Ethical Principles for CMCA Members in Relationships with Clients

CMCA understands clients to be any counselees, patients, residents, students, or staff to whom they provide spiritual care. In relationships with clients, CMCA upholds the following standards of professional ethics, and will:

  1. Speak and act in ways that respect and honor the dignity, integrity, value and freedom of conscience of every individual, without compromising their own beliefs.
  2. Provide pastoral care intended to promote the best interest of the client and to foster strength, integrity, hope and healing of the whole person.
  3. Demonstrate respect and sensitivity for the cultural and religious values of those they serve and refrain from imposing their own values and beliefs on those served, thus avoiding ethnocentrism.
  4. Respect the right of each faith group within correctional facilities to hold to its values and traditions.
  5. Refrain from any form of harassment, coercion, intimidation or otherwise abusive words or actions, sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or sexual assault in relationships with clients. This necessitates all compliance with Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) guidelines.
  6. Be mindful of the imbalance of power in the professional/client relationship and refrain from exploitation of that imbalance by maintaining relationships with clients on a professional basis only.
  7. Avoid or correct any conflicts of interest or appearance of conflicting interest(s).
  8. Safeguard the confidentiality of clients when using materials for educational purposes or written publication.
  9. Safeguard the confidentiality of information when communicating with family members or significant others except when disclosure is required for necessary treatment granted by client permission, for the safety of any person, or required by law.
  10. Understand the limits of one’s individual expertise and make referrals to other professionals when appropriate.

Ethical Principles for CMCA Members in Relationships with their Local Faith Community

CMCA members are accountable to their local faith communities, one another and other organizations. Therefore, they will:

  1. Maintain good standing in their local faith communities, including ecclesiastical endorsement of themselves and their ministries.
  2. Abide by the professional practice and/or teaching standards of the state/province, community and institution in which they serve. If for any reason a CMCA member is not free to practice or teach according to their biblically-informed conscience, they will notify the correctional administration, and their local faith community as appropriate.
  3. Not directly or by implication claim professional qualifications that exceed actual qualifications or misrepresent an affiliation with any institution or organization.

Ethical Principles for CMCA Members in Relationships with Colleagues, Other Professionals, and the Community at Large

CMCA is accountable to the public, other faith communities, employers and professionals in all professional relationships. Therefore, CMCA will:

  1. Promote justice and compassion in relationships with others, institutions and society.
  2. Represent accurately professional qualifications and affiliations.
  3. Respect the opinions, beliefs and professional endeavors of colleagues and other professionals.
  4. Seek advice and counsel of other professionals whenever it is in the best interest of those served and make referrals when appropriate.
  5. Provide expertise and counsel to correctional and other appropriate professionals in advocating for best practices.
  6. Seek to establish collaborative relationships with other community and correctional professionals.
  7. Provide professionals with information, logs, and chart notes where they are used to further treatment of the clients, obtaining consent when required, never violating confidentiality.
  8. Clearly distinguish between statements made or actions taken as a private individual and those made as a member or representative of CMCA.
  9. Honor all consultations, whether personal or client-related, with the highest professional regard and confidentiality.
  10. Exercise due caution when communicating through the internet or other electronic means.
  11. Take collegial and responsible action when concerns about or direct knowledge of incompetence, impairment, misconduct or violations against this code of ethics arise.
  12. Advocate for changes that honor spiritual values and promote restoration and healing.

Ethical Principles for CMCA Members in Relationships Between Teaching Chaplains, Supervisors, Educators, and Student Trainees, Interns

CMCA respects the integrity of both the students/trainees/interns and the trainers. Teaching Chaplains/Supervisors/Educators must use the power of instructor in responsible ways. Therefore, CMCA will:

  1. Maintain a healthy educational environment free of coercion or intimidation.
  2. Maintain clear professional boundaries in the areas of self-disclosure, intimacy and sexuality.
  3. Provide clear expectations regarding responsibilities, work schedules, assignments, goals, deadlines, fees and payments.
  4. Take full responsibility to maintain the training standards set forth by or approved by CMCA.
  5. Provide adequate, timely and constructive feedback to students/trainees/interns.
  6. Maintain respect for the personal growth of students/trainees/interns and provide professional referrals when appropriate.
  7. Maintain appropriate confidentiality regarding all information and knowledge gained in the course of supervision/mentoring.