Friday, June 3, 2011
Inmates with addiction issues who feel closer to the Divine and who are a part of a religious group fare much better during their recovery period. Those who are incarcerated are often overwhelmed by feelings of shame and rejection due to their situation. Isolation, which is a part of prison life, leads to severe depression and perverse personality changes, which in turn affects the individual's future hopes and aspirations- affecting their ability to rejoin society as a contributing member after detainment.
Psychologists, psycho-social therapists, and the so-called State 'experts' know this. A recent study suggests that the practice of religion significantly reduces the chance of prisoners engaging in verbal or physical altercations. Support from a religious group increases the likelihood of lasting inmate reform after completing the prison sentence time. In other words, it cuts down on the number of repeat offenders and ultimately reduces the State's expenses-and the taxpayer's- by housing less prisoners .
It's my personal opinion that the Chaplain is an important member of the rehabilitation team. This has been echoed by the Supreme Court of the United States when it ruled in 1987 that prisoners retain their constitutional rights, including that of religious worship.
Those most likely imprisoned are already on the fringes of society, generally speaking, a type who doesn't quite fit with the rest of the population through nonconformity to the accepted norm. They are essentially outcasts, either in fact or by their own belief. Many are overwhelmed by feelings of rejection, guilt, shame or inadequacy. Chaplains and spiritual directors can help advocate for the inmate so he or she is guided in the right direction to achieve wellness and balance. They are often the single truly compassionate person in that individual's life. They can assist and guide both the prisoner and civil authorities in developing a program of reform which will be successful in that individual achieving meaningful reintroduction into society post-prison.
Many times it is the Chaplain providing pastoral care that is singular reason inmates are reunited with their families and friends. It is the Chaplain who is often the go-between initiating a smooth transfer of the individual to the spiritual care of a minister, church or other spiritual group outside the prison walls. It is the Chaplain who assists case managers with housing and employment of prisoners after release, because they are able to be used as a character reference.
So what I get the State of California as saying is essentially this: That even though the Rev, Patrick McCollum has been a chaplain in the prison system for over a decade in a capacity that has been meaningful and that he has contributed to the rehabilitation of perhaps hundreds of inmates through that service, which is in many ways identical to his ministerial colleagues, that service only has worth if it is free. Did I get that right?
1 Timothy 5:18 b, " The laborer is worthy of his wages." It seems to be applicable to others, so why not Patrick McCollum?
Posted by Ameth Jera at 5:17 AM