What's does a Prison Chaplain do?

   Here are a  few of the responsibilities, the higher functions,
   some of the finer issues of a multi-faceted Profession

    Click to jump to the following
TDCJ Mission Statement  ~  TDCJ Chaplaincy Mission Statement 
Pastoral Care  ~  Quality Program Management  ~  
Therapeutic Community
  ~  Method of Delivery  ~  The Challenge

Prison Chaplain Network Flowchart   
Prison Chaplain Pastoral Care Direct Delivery  

Prison Chaplain Pastoral Care Volunteer Delivery  
Click Here to e-mail us:  Parity@PreciousHeart.net




The mission of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is to provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist victims of crime.

TDCJ Web Site, January 2000

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


The Texas Department of Criminal Justice will be open, ethical and accountable to our fellow citizens and work cooperatively with other governmental entities.   We will foster a quality working environment free of bias and respectful of each individual.   Our programs will provide a continuum of services consistent with contemporary standards to confine, supervise and treat criminal offenders in an innovative, cost effective and efficient manner.

TDCJ Quality Control Council
TDCJ Newsletter, Revised March/April 1994



The mission of the Chaplaincy Department of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice:  Institutional Division is to positively impact public safety and the reduction of recidivism through rehabilitation and re-integration of adult felons into society through

[1] Pastoral Care
[2] Quality Program Management and a 
[3] Therapeutic Community.

TDCJ Chaplaincy Strategic Plan  

Correctional Chaplaincy Mission

MISSION:  to provide quality [1] Pastoral Care, [2] Program Management, and  [3] a Therapeutic Community that promotes public safety, produces change in criminal behavior, and reintegrates offenders into society.  See the definitions below.

Pastoral Care ~ Quality Program Management ~ Therapeutic Community ~
Method of Delivery ~ The Challenge

    [1]  Pastoral Care:   doing what it takes to encourage someone toward a higher level of living, especially within a Faith Context and struggling with that person in mutual growth.   Quality Pastoral Care is care and a relationship delivered in a religious context with the purpose of determining and developing the vital issues of ultimate concern in life.   This developing is growth--growth that enriches meaning in life and fosters change toward higher degree moral living as defined by a chosen faith, the essence of religion.

What are his or her vital issues of ultimate concern in faith, life, heart, and soul?   How can they come to terms with their vital issues?   How can they work through their vital issues in their community of faith, in their family, in the hostile environment of prison and in society as a whole?  

    [2]  Program Management:   delivers Pastoral Care through the inter-religious service of the chaplain, through the chaplain's own religion and through the chaplain's resources and associates in other religions.   The theology, philosophy, beliefs, and practices of every religion address innumerable  Vital Issues of ultimate concern.   These vital issues include all concerns of heart and soul, every aspect of whatever makes up the personhood and being of each person as they relate to the rest of the universe.   A few of these  Vital Issues are: 

God, Supreme Being &/or Spirit,       Existence--Being--Non-Being,
Life Crises & Goals,                  Identity & Sexuality, 
Eternity & Annihilation,              Nature of Growth & Death,
Universal Forces,                     Origin--Beginning--Ending,
Purpose Pain & Pleasure,              Purpose of God & Humankind,
Derivation & Purpose of Law,          Sources of Authority,
Destiny of Humankind,                 Coping with Life & Prison,
Scripture Interpretation,             Transcendence,
Truth--Dignity--Honor--Love,          Cycles & Stages of Life,
Moral & Social Accountability,        Family--Marriage--Separation,
Wisdom & Life Skills,                 Essence of Good--Evil,
Essence of Humankind & Principles,    Purpose--Meaning in life.

   [3]  Therapeutic Community:   is the chaplains and ministry team as they relate to the inmates, the staff, the community and each other in the delivery of quality pastoral care.   This delivery is within the context of the entire treatment and correctional team.

METHOD OF DELIVERY:   in the context of sustained religious programming, the needs of persons determine the allocation of available resources.   The closed nature and the close quarters of the system force the creation of unique and intense relationships.   Though a preponderance of delivery is directed toward the inmates, effective delivery has a focus that includes all persons:   staff, inmates, volunteers, chaplains and the families of all.   Only by being available to all of the needs and vital issues of every person in the system--regardless of faith--will the highest possible level of pastoral care be available to any one person.

THE CHALLENGE Beyond Full Definition.   The caregivers are only mortal.   At times the best effort is a fragile struggle between two people, two souls, two sets of vital issues:   one is as available as he or she is able, the other is on the brink of collapse into a lower level of living or destruction.   So the history of every religion brings a confidence that if anyone takes a seed of faith there is in that seed a hope--a hope in a destiny of significance, worth and purpose.   The seed sown has power in itself, far beyond the limitations of the mortal sower.  

M. G. Maness, Chaplain

[This is the job, in part, of the TDCJ Unit Chaplain making the same salary as an entry level TDCJ Programmer II whose minimum qualifications ask for a HS/GED & 1 year of experience;  However, No experience in any field is required if that person has BS with a smidgeon of computer hours.  Does not everyone, inside and outside of TDCJ, intuitively understand the kind of education and experience it takes to do the above within the interpersonally hostile environment of a prison?  No one anywhere would expect a 20 or even 30 year old to be truly effective to the above tasks.] 


Prison Chaplain Network Flowchart


The following is  only part  of the multi-faceted work and network and spectrum of tasking involved in Criminal Justice Chaplaincy.  It is far from complete, far from comprehensive, for each TDCJ Chaplain has something uniquely specific going on, on their units.  And of course, while similar, there would be whole categories that would need to be added to fully understand the multi-faceted nature of TYC and MHMR chaplaincy work.


Notice how in each category of faith delivery there are two levels:  Direct Delivery and Volunteer Delivery.  This indicates the broad spectrum and variety of a Unit Chaplainís leadership and network and supervision.  The following sections explain further the breadth of the networking.  


This is just part of the network.  


Prison Chaplain Pastoral Care Direct Delivery

Direct delivery is the delivery of quality pastoral care by the Unit Chaplain to the following three (3) categories, including the chaplainís supervision of Volunteer Chaplains who also give limited direct delivery to Category 1 and help with Categories 2 and 3.  And chaplains regularly network with local and national clergy and with other volunteers in the organization and delivery of pastoral care in some aspect within all three categories.



Prison Chaplain Pastoral Care Volunteer Delivery Supervision

Chaplains supervise both the direct & indirect delivery of quality pastoral care to Inter-Religious Programs.   In such programs inmate clients from potentially all faith/religious persuasions are allowed participation.   This is just one aspect of many of how chaplains supervise the volunteer delivery of pastoral care.   The following is just one example of one chaplains initiative to expand current volunteer programming.   Many chaplains have other organized efforts to resource the community, and to a great degree such accessing of the community depends upon the community itself.

 ~ Click Here to e-mail us:  Parity@PreciousHeart.net ~