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Feelings, Attitudes, Values and Assumptions about Prison Practice

How prison practices are viewed can affect a chaplain’s motivation and performance when they are providing spiritual care. When one thinks of the practices in prisons, they may summon images of shows like Prison Break or Orange is the New Black. These shows can create many deep feelings about prison care that prison chaplains are not immune to. Before entering a new line of work most people conduct research into the potential field of entry, but they also already possess preconceptions about what their job experience will be. Since chaplains are looking into entering a controversial workplace, a prison, they are likely to find objective...

Self-reflection in Provision of Prison-based Care

Some prison chaplains may discover that they have difficulties attempting to reflect on and evaluate their work and ministry, but there are guidelines that can make their process easier. Self-reflection is a valuable way to evaluate one’s own ministry strengths, weaknesses and limitations when providing institutional care. One difficulty that chaplains encounter in their self-reflection is the lack of reliable information that is available for their ministry (Pace & Beckner, 2014). Most of the information used by chaplains is subjective. Measuring the quality of services, counseling and spiritual impact within a prison setting cannot properly be measured because it can differ drastically from person to...

The Psychology and Sociology of Spiritual Care

Prison chaplains provide spiritual care to inmates. They are aware that the concepts of altruism, avoidance and alienation directly impact the inmates materially, socially and mentally. Altruism is the idea that a person performs an act of kindness that will help others, but will either provide no benefit or a loss to them (Anderson, 2007). This psychological concept can be found in most world religions, including Christianity. In Luke 10:25-36, Luke writes about the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, a man is beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. Three men walk by him as he is dying: a...

Prison Group Dynamics and Organizational Behavior

An informal social group can be defined as a group of people (at minimum three) that have created a solidified pattern of social attitudes, values and interactions based on loyalty, similar interests or home backgrounds, crime associations and their ability to cooperate in the execution of a natural function (Caldwell, 1956). The cooperation in the execution of a natural function is what a social group centers around because it is the interest that connects the group. For example, in a prison community composed of adult males, the function could be gambling, the cooking of moonshine or participating in homosexual relations (Caldwell, 1956). Since the prison...

Spiritual Care in the Prison Environment

Prison chaplains work to provide religious and spiritual care to inmates and fellow prison employees across the country. Spiritual care, also known as pastoral care, is simpler to define when the root meaning of the word “spiritual” is given. This word is a combination of Latin and Hebrew roots:the Hebrew word Rauch, which means soul and the Latin word Spiritus, which means breathe of life. When these two meanings are combined it creates a word that means to breath life into a soul. In a prison, chaplains provide spiritual care in a multitude of ways. Their focus is on providing spiritual care to inmates and staff...