Public Correctional Policy on Religious and Faith Practice

Corrections Today, May-June 2013 | Go to article overview

Public Correctional Policy on Religious and Faith Practice


Introduction: Correctional systems provide opportunities for religious and faith practice by offenders. These opportunities, however, must not override the choice by some offenders of non-participation in such practices. Protection of religious beliefs and of their exercise is recognized in U.S. and Canadian constitutions and in other human rights documents.

Policy Statement: Recognizing the existence of differing religious faiths, correctional systems must be guided by principles not only of voluntary participation, but of equity of opportunity for the practice of religions represented within the offender population. Limited only by reasons of safety, security and order, institutions should:

A. Provide for direction and supervision regarding religious issues and activities by professionally qualified and trained chaplaincy and/or religious staff, including the use of volunteers for the delivery of programs consistent with the identified religious needs of the population being served;

B. Develop written policies and guidelines for decision-making and communication between chaplaincy staff and institutional administrators regarding religious faith and practice within the institution;

C. Provide appropriate facilities and support services needed for individual and group religious activities;

D. Allow the observance of periodic special or ritual activities requested by offenders and deemed essential by the respective religious judicatories or national offices of that religious group;

E. …

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