Religious Services

Mission of Religious Services

The mission of chaplains in the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry is to effectively facilitate opportunities for religious expression by inmates in accordance with ADCRR policies and procedures. Chaplains, in concert with other staff, contract service providers, volunteers, and community religious leaders provide worship, education, counseling, support and crisis intervention to accommodate the religious needs of a diverse inmate population. Pastoral care and subject matter expertise, or other assistance, will be extended to staff as appropriate.

Pastoral Activities

Religious ministry to the incarcerated is as old as incarceration itself. The long tradition of prison chaplaincy is continued in the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation & Reentry (ADCRR) through the services of a variety of different channels.

The Pastoral Activities program of the ADCRR consists of staff chaplains and volunteers serving over 40 different religions routinely represented in the inmate population. While religious services are coordinated by the chaplains, they are presented by both chaplains and volunteers. In addition, other community groups and individuals assist with special services and seminars scheduled periodically at each complex.

Studies have shown that inmates active in religious programming are less likely to be involved in negative behavior within the institution, profit from a spiritual support system during transition, and also develop skills that enhance their chance for long-term success in society.

The Pastoral Activities program seeks to productively engage inmates in activities that provide opportunities for self improvement, the pursuit of religious exercise and the observance of rituals.

Chaplains provide religious services, coordinate religious privilege accommodation and ensure that inmates are provided access to religious activities, materials, diets, and other legitimate tenets of their faith. Through personal contacts from chaplains, inmates are also provided the opportunity to connect with a community or religious leader willing to assist them upon release. Connections are facilitated by the chaplains and include telephone contacts, correspondence, and scheduling personal pastoral visits.

While services are coordinated by the chaplains, they are presented by both chaplains and volunteers. In addition, other community groups and individuals assist with special services and seminars scheduled periodically at each complex. Regularly scheduled worship/study opportunities are provided for religions represented in the inmate population based upon inmate requests and available time and space for services. Chaplains coordinate an average of about 3,000 services per month inside the prisons.

Institutional Chaplains

Qualified chaplains coordinate religious services within all Department of Corrections institutions. The role of the correctional chaplain is to:

  • Coordinate all religious programming in their assigned unit(s)
  • Manage volunteer involvement in religious programming
  • Conduct religious services and meet with inmates for counseling
  • Respond to inmate requests for a variety of accommodations
  • Schedule pastoral visits and counseling upon inmate’s request
  • Emergency notification of serious illness/death

 

ASPC Complex
Chaplain
Phone Number
Douglas Senior Chaplain Timothy Poetter (520) 364-7521 ext. 34360
Eyman Senior Chaplain Adam Henry (520) 868-0201 ext. 2202/2204
Florence Senior Chaplain James Miser (520) 868-4011 ext. 5129
Lewis Senior Chaplain William Thomas (623) 386-6160 ext. 4904
Perryville Senior Chaplain B.J. Harris (623) 853-0304 ext. 24017
Phoenix Senior Chaplain Delbert Henderson (602) 685-3100 ext. 2012
Safford Senior Chaplain Jeff Lind (928) 428-4698 ext. 2520
Tucson Senior Chaplain Miguel Ramos (520) 574-0024 ext. 36039
Winslow Senior Chaplain Joel Yuen (928) 337-4845 ext. 4410
Yuma Senior Chaplain M.R. Kidwell (928) 627-8871 ext. 16070

Inmate Marriages

The ADCRR permits offenders to marry provided that the marriage is legal and does not pose a risk to the safe, secure and orderly operation of the department or jeopardize public safety. Permission to marry does not supersede or change any instructions governing visitation, release procedures, mail and property or phone calls.

An offender applying to marry should review Department Order 904 at their library for an outline of the process.

For further information about the marriage application process, refer to Department Order 904, Section 904.07.

Religious Property

Inmates may request religious literature/materials from their institutional chaplain. Donated ceremonial supplies are used for group ceremonies when appropriate and available.

The ADCRR permits Inmates to possess religious items used in the practice of the inmate's religion, not posing a threat to the safe, secure and orderly operation of the institution provided all items are capable of being stored in their property box. All items must be purchased from approved sources, with the exception of any item not appropriate for store purchase (e.g., eagle feather).

For information regarding sending items/publications into the institutions refer to Department Order 914. Mail containing religious materials is treated in a manner consistent with other institutional mail.

Religious Diets

Inmates who wish to observe religious dietary laws shall provide a written request for a special diet to the institutional chaplain. Religious dietary requests shall be accommodated to the extent practicable within the constraints of budgetary limitations, security, and the orderly operation of the institution.

Application for special diets, and processing such requests, shall be in accordance with Department Order 912, Inmate Food Service System Food Service Technical Manual Religious Diet Process.

FAQs

Q. May I send a send a bible or other book to an inmate?

A. Books (religious or otherwise) must be sent in accordance with Inmate Mail, Department Order 914, which includes receipt directly from the publisher or an authorized distributor. Individuals and organizations that are not publishers or authorized distributors may not send books to inmates.

Q. If I can't send a bible, and cannot afford to purchase one new, how will my incarcerated family member get a Bible or other sacred writing?

A. Many organizations donate Bibles to the ADCRR, which are available for loan to any inmate. In addition, sacred writing and religious literature for other religions are available in limited quantities as donations are received.

Q. How do I become a religious volunteer?

A. Contact the Senior Chaplain of the prison at which you wish to volunteer. That person will be able to inform you on current needs and availability, as well as outline the process.

Q. Can an inmate request a visit by a specific religious leader?

A. The ADCRR encourages religious visitation between inmates and their religious leaders. An inmate should provide their chaplain the name of the religious leader they wish to have visit along with information on how to make contact. Religious leaders wishing to visit an inmate should contact the senior chaplain of the facility where the inmate is housed for information and scheduling (see Department Order 904 for more information).

Q. How do I contact the inmate if there is a family emergency, such as a serious illness, injury, or death?

A. If a family emergency requires notifying an inmate, contact the senior chaplain during normal business hours or the shift supervisor after hours. Be prepared to provide specific information that will assist with verifying the emergency prior to notifying the inmate (e.g. name, relationship, law enforcement agency or hospital). Inmates are generally provided an opportunity to call their family after verification of the emergency.

Q. Will I be allowed to volunteer for prison ministry if I have an incarcerated family member?

A. Yes. Volunteer applicants are not excluded if they have incarcerated family members, but would not be assigned to provide services where their family member is housed.