The importance of Chaplaincy is vital for Christians everywhere. Paul the Apostle recognized the importance of Correctional Chaplaincy as he was the first of its kind. Chaplains get to witness firsthand the transformational power of the Gospel like nowhere else! Chaplains are the inmate’s spiritual guidance as well as their counselors. They are their advocates of faith as well as legal guarantors of safe religious practice. Chaplaincy often requires many different tasks in the position, as well as being a liaison between the warden and the inmates.


Correctional Chaplains Defined by the States

A Correctional Chaplain is defined as:

  • Person who provides religious services on a scheduled basis.
  • A clergy person serving full-time/part-time in a religious capacity and employed by the Department.
  • A minister, priest, imam, rabbi, or other leader of a religious denomination who is authorized by the Department of Correction to perform religious functions for inmates
  • The person assigned by the Deputy Director/designee to oversee the administration and operations of all religious activities and to provide pastoral care to inmates and staff as needed
  • A correctional employee or approved volunteer authorized to provide religious counsel, instruction, instruction, and advice to inmates and to provide a system of services or religious volunteers, ecclesiastical visitors, and guests for inmates
Common Chaplain Duties
  • Chaplains establish a place for worship/service
  • Maintain a schedule for services and activities that is visible to the inmates
  • At a minimum, have a meeting once a week
  • Arrange for outside pastors/chaplains/guest speakers to come in (with permission and clearance)
  • Provide reading and other religious materials
  • Be available upon request for individual counseling times
  • Give religious instruction/education
  • Hospice care when applicable
  • Drafting budget requests and other requests
  • Staff for volunteers/other chaplains
  • Maintain relationship with chaplains of different faiths with open communication with them
  • Attend meetings with warden/staff to be up to date with codes and procedures
  • Have open communication with warden, guards, and other staff members pertaining to members of the congregation and religious services
  • Ensure all religious rights are being upheld with communication between inmate, chaplain, and staff
  • PREA advocacy with moral support and guidance
  • Report any criminal activity or misconduct
  • Keep records of requests, letters to chaplain, and any other important forms of communication

Audit of the FOP Chaplaincy Services Program 2021
This report by the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General assesses the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) management and oversight of its Chaplaincy Services Program to support faith-based activities and its effectiveness in preventing security risks and misuse of program resources.

Clergy Response to Survivors of Domestic Violence (Expert Q&A)
This Q&A Video session distributed by he Office for Victims of Crime discusses the current practice of faith leaders regarding domestic violence and explores ways to engage and train faith leaders.  Access the powerpoint here >>

Understanding Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)
This report by the National Center for PTSD describes PTSD and outlines different therapies and medications that are proven to help people with PTSD.

free Inside Journal Life Recovery Bible

Many prisoners don’t have easy access to their own Bible, and Bibles that are available are often in hard-to-understand translations or tiny font sizes. To help meet the diverse needs of the incarcerated population, Inside Journal®, the Prison Fellowship® quarterly newspaper for men and women behind bars, partnered with Tyndale House Publishers to offer a free Inside Journal Life Recovery Bible. With special devotional content based on the 12-step model, these easy-to-read, large-print Bibles (available in both English and Spanish) are a version of the No. 1-selling recovery Bible that has helped millions of readers overcome their addictions and strongholds. 


To learn more or place an order, click here:

Other Free Resources for Chaplains

Click Here for a listing of free Christian resources for chaplains.  We thank Kenneth Hansen for compiling these resources.  You may email Kenneth with additions or changes here:

Books and Other Recommendations

Book recommendations:

Keeper of the Cloak by Thomas Beckner

Dr. Beckner briefly reviews the history of correctional chaplaincy and its development within the American criminal   justice system and summarizes several significant studies of the profession. He examines the critical premises on   which chaplaincy rests and presents a unique structural model of chaplaincy consisting of four critical dimensions:   personal, pastoral, administrative, and community. Beckner then shows how this paradigm serves as a template for   the development of a chaplaincy plan that will meet the needs of a specific institutional setting and can be monitored   for effective results.



Ministry to the Incarcerated by Henry Covert

Dr.Henry G.Covert uses his experiences as both a police officer and state prison chaplain to examine the   environment of the incarcerated – people who are often forgotten by society. He emphasizes particular areas of   inmate stress and  how they impact upon the inmate’s spiritual formation and the role of the Church in offering   encouragement, healing and transformation. He calls for staff education, environmental improvements, and a   pastoral presence that facilitates rehabilitation and hope,rather than discouragement and punishment. According to   Dr.Covert, many inmates truly desire to change. The presence of the Church can be their strongest form of encouragement and support. He provides examples of biblical themes that can promote healing and regeneration among prisoners, drawing specifically on the teachings of Jesus.

Other Resource:

Members Have Exclusive Access To Other Content Like:

  • Volunteer Handbook: Successful Strategies for Recruiting, Training, and Utilizing Volunteers
  • Going Pro: Making the Case for Professional Chaplains
  • Religious Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act
  • Chaplains Free And Donated Resources For Prison
  • Addressing Vicarious Trauma for the Individual
  • Pastoral Care and Counseling in Prison: What Works?