Why we do it
Prisoners are people!
Every prisoner has a story. As families are torn apart through violence and abandonment, society decays and crime increases. Every prisoner is someone’s Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Husband, Wife… people who are separated from their families (or never had a family!). They are people, punished in accordance with the law, through a system of retributive justice, and are generally ignored and forgotten by our wider society. Prisoners are often isolated, afraid, angry and hurting. Moreover, according to ABS statistics, prisoners (in Queensland) are likely to be
- Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander (approx 30%)
- in prison before (approximately 60%)
- presenting with some diagnosable form of mental health issue (nearly 50%)
- have the highest representation in the age group 24-29 y.o
- have a form of drug or alcohol dependency (nearly 90%).
Prisoners often lose self esteem, value and all sense of worth upon imprisonment. They also lose decision making power and quite often feel as if they are “just a number in a system”. The question we, as a society, need to ask is – what sort of person would we want a prisoner to be when they re-enter into society – and in what framework will any possible change occur?
How we do it
Through their pastoral encounters with prisoners, chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support, helping prisoners to begin the journey of transformation. Chaplains are often professional people with a wealth of positive life experience to draw upon, who freely give their time to prisoners – people seeking guidance, wisdom and encouragement. Chaplains help a prisoner to form a positive worldview and discover their true identity. In explaining the grand-narrative of creation, fall, promise, redemption and relationship with God, a Chaplain enables a prisoner to discover for themselves a sense of identity and intrinsic value and worth.
The change which can occur through therapeutic programs inside of a jail, is supported by a chaplain’s continual guidance in the life of the prisoner – providing a real catalyst for change. Chaplains are not psychologists, or counselors, but will often refer prisoners to them, resulting in better outcomes for all involved.
Please consider becoming a volunteer chaplain
As a registered Association, Inside/Out Prison Chaplaincy is one of the six Christian chaplaincy providers to Queensland Corrective Services, supplying volunteer chaplains according to a Service Level Agreement administered by the State Chaplaincy Board. Our Duty chaplains serve on a rostered basis; one day each week in their respective Correctional Centres, in accordance with the appropriate procedures. It is the role of the duty chaplain to provide pastoral care, as clearly defined in the Chaplaincy Handbook:
Pastoral care or spiritual care is a ministry to any person who is experiencing a period of personal, social, physical, material, mental, spiritual or moral stress. Pastoral care reaches out to such people wherever they are suffering, offering consolation and support in whatever form is appropriate to the person at the time. The type of support needed may vary from day to day. The carer must accept them irrespective of their condition, their religious background, their virtues and their vices. The carer shows no prejudice, judgmental attitude, or superior air toward their social position, their faith belief, use of language, or their ethnicity. A pastoral carer must respect the theological position or otherwise and not set out with an agenda of proselytization of the prisoner. In fact, where faith beliefs differ, there must be an acceptance of the common elements that exist in all religions and provide reassurance and support through their own faith.