Many offenders are eager to re-evaluate faith principles because they realize their self-seeking strategy has failed them. Chaplains and chapel programs challenge offenders to address spiritual issues, questions and needs by introducing them to spiritual programming offered within a correctional environment.
Religious & Spiritual Programming
Religious programming opportunities and pastoral care services are provided for offenders in correctional centers. Chaplains assigned to the institutions work with volunteers from various faith groups to ensure constitutional rights of inmates to practice their chosen religions are facilitated within the limitations of a secure setting. Spirituality can be a restorative and transforming tool for inmate change, growth and social reintegration.
Spiritual services available in Missouri correctional centers include counseling; visits from community volunteers and clergy; religious dietary accommodations; a religious advisory council; worship services and studies; a chapel library; and special programming. Access to religious and spiritual services has been shown to decrease conduct violations and promote inmate institutional adjustment. Inmates attending religious and spiritual programming are more likely to engage in activities that promote positive attitudes and behaviors needed to take advantage of other programs.
For more information on chaplaincy services, becoming a religious/ spiritual volunteer, or to learn how you or your religious organization can support inmate success please contact Religious/Spiritual Programming, P.O. Box 236, Jefferson City, MO 65102 573-526-6489.
Counseling – All offenders are welcome to make an appointment with the chaplain or a volunteer. Those in administrative segregation may send correspondence to the chaplain seeking a cell visit.
Volunteers – Volunteers come every week and all through the year to encourage, minister and just to be a support to offenders. They come on their own time with some volunteers traveling significant distances to reach out and express good will. These volunteers counsel, lead small groups, preach, teach, sing, assist with the chapel office and visit offenders in the housing units.
Visiting Clergy/ Spiritual Advisor – Outside ministers or lay-level leadership may be requested by an offender for one-on-one visits in the visiting room.
Religious Diets – Meals that meet religious requirements are provided to those who apply and who qualify in accordance to department policy.
PREA Offender Advocacy – Chaplains are available to offenders who state their need to see an advocate should they be a victim of rape in accordance to PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act). Involves moral support & guidance through the process.
Religious Advisory Council – For the religious groups meeting at the chapel, a quarterly meeting occurs with the chaplain and approved offender group representatives discussing accommodation needs and ideas.
After Care Support (Parole Plans) – Brochures are available for offenders making home plan arrangements. Missouri faith-based organizations are willing to help the ex-offender get re-acclimated to free society. Some come to the chapel to meet and interview offenders. A statewide directory is also available.
Topical Group Studies – Addresses the challenges offenders face by applying faith principals in order to move toward resolution in a volunteer led group setting. Classes could include: anger management, meditation, addiction recovery, parenting, gender specific studies, grief recovery, guilt and shame, personality, identity, purpose, financial responsibility, character development and many more.
Chapel Library – Individual or group religious education and exploration is aided by offender access to books, CDs and DVDs available for reference, checkout or viewing.
Special Programming – Additional religious observations associated with special emphasis or holy days are accommodated. These may involve revivals, workshops, seminars, food events, concerts, theater or special inspirational speakers.
Faith Expositions – Seminars which highlight all the faith groups meeting at the chapel allow offenders to be exposed to a diversity of faiths.
Staff Training – Offenders are assisted by chaplains in training staff members about religions and their respective accommodations.
Correspondence Courses – Offenders may engage in personal study by way of these typically free religious courses. College-level courses are also available. These courses may be funded by outside sources but must be pre-approved.
Free Literature – Includes donated “sacred texts” and religious educational materials, which are available in most visiting rooms for friends and family.
Film Discussion – An appropriate, quality film is followed by group discussion on a variety of character development topics. Offenders can feel more comfortable in this setting to address personal struggles.
Greeting Cards – To help offenders keep in contact with their friends and family, donated greeting cards are usually available to offenders.
Marriage Arrangements – Biannual marriage arrangements are coordinated through the chapel. Informational packets are available.
Memorial Services – Allows the opportunity for offenders to remember those who have passed away. These services help offenders grieve and resolve loss from a distance in a supportive spiritual environment.
Outreach to Offenders’ Children – Prison Fellowship Christmas Angel Tree & Salvation Army Toy Lift allow for Christmas gifts to be requested by offenders for distribution to their children.
Personal Religious Property – Approved items may be acquired by purchase from outside vendors in accordance to department policy. Vendor catalogs are made available to offenders.
Religious Declaration – Official declaration of religious preference is accommodated during the months of January and July and when offenders are received at correctional centers.
Worship Services and Study – Faith specific worship services and study programs provided weekly.
Fully Accommodated Religions
- Al-Islam/ Muslim
- Christian - General
- Christian - Roman Catholic
- Moorish Science Temple of America
- Nation of Islam
- Native American Spirituality
Douglas A. Worsham
Supervisor of Religious/Spiritual Programming
2729 Plaza Drive
P.O. Box 236
Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
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