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 (ADC) through the services of a variety of different channels.
The Pastoral Activities program of the ADC 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.
Mission of Religious Services
The mission of chaplains in the Arizona Department of Corrections is to effectively facilitate opportunities for religious expression by inmates in accordance with A.D.C. 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.
Frequently Asked Questions - Religious
Inmate Marriages - the marriage application process for inmates within the Department of Corrections
Religious Property - information regarding personal religious property and donated supplies
Religious Diets - the accommodations of religious dietary requirements
Institutional Chaplains - information and links to the religious services provided at each institution