Saturday, February 19, 2011

More coverage of zeroed out chaplaincy budget

Brandi Grissom at the Texas Tribune this week had a story following up on a budget angle covered on Grits last month: "Texas prison chaplains pray, plead for funds." She quotes "State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, [who] spoke with the chaplains on Wednesday. The services they provide have a great payback in reducing recidivism, and he says he is hopeful lawmakers will find a way to keep them working in state prisons. “I’m fairly confident somehow or another we’ll find that comparatively small amount of money and restore all or parts of it,” he says." AND MORE (2/20): From a columnist at the Amarillo Globe-NewsAND MORE: (2/21) From the Lubbock Avalanche Journal's Faith Blog.


Anonymous said...

The fact that the unit chaplains are being zeroed out speaks more than any other cut of just how TDCJ views rehabilitation, reentry, recidivism and public safety. No way, no how can those responsible for this cut be considering the best interests of Texas. Given the fact that the faith based initiatives that are overseen and coordinated by the chaplain's office are hands down the most efficient and effective way we have to reduce recidivism. If it is true that 18000 volunteers serve, then it must be true that for every 9 or so inmates there is one volunteer, something is seriously wrong if TDCJ is willing to discount this huge asset of free manpower. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

sunray's wench said...

"Given the fact that the faith based initiatives that are overseen and coordinated by the chaplain's office are hands down the most efficient and effective way we have to reduce recidivism."

If it's a fact, then you'll have some figures, studies or other information to back this claim up, and I'd like to see some of it.

There are many other rehabilitation programmes in operation through the US, Canada and the UK that have nothing to do with religion and I suspect have no better or worse results than the ones overseen by the Chaplains in TDCJ.

Anonymous said...

I'm an advocate of separation of church and state, and thus have some ideological objections to state funding for chaplains, in prison or the armed forces. However, I think my pragmatic side balances out my ideological side in this issue. And many of these state legislators wanting to make this cut have no church-state qualms. They would be quick to say that the US is and always has been a Christian nation and debunk the very idea of separation of church and state. I wonder if they would be willing to scrap the armed forces chaplaincy program and save a few federal bucks. Just wondering.

Rev. Charles in Tulia

Anonymous said...


While I understand the nature of your query into statistics for the faith-based volunteer system i imagine that you are not looking at the entire problem here.

The Chaplains help to facilitate religious based volunteers, however these other 'non-faith based' are usually controlled by the Chaplains as well. That or no other programs exist. If it comes down to having just a religious based program, or nothing at all I have to side with the Chaplains on this one. It is wrong to rip this one positive program to satisfy a need to open more prisons or keep more open.

I believe in separation of church and state when dealing with laws and rules governing others. I also support any program that attempts to help someone. I believe these programs are helpful to people in general.

This is not the UK, sunray, our volunteers are not as charitable as yours may be.

sunray's wench said...

Anon (would be nice to have an alias to address) ~ actually I think Americans are more charitable than us Brits, because of the culture and society you live in. I think you have to be.

I was questioning the notion that faith-based programmes have a higher success rate for reducing recidivism than non-faith-based programmes. I'm aware that the Chaplains oversee all volunteer groups, but just as where one Warden will have a rule that another does, one Chaplain will exert more of their own bias over the programmes allowed than another may do. There is no consistency, and that makes TDCJ very unstable.

The figures may work out to approx 1 volunteer for every 9 inmates, but that is taking the whole inmate population in one lump. In reality, some TDCJ units see very few volunteers because of their location. In places like Coffield and Michael units it is probably more in the region of 1 volunteer to every 75-100 inmates.

The programme that was specifically designed to help inmates get jobs upon release (Project RIO) is also being cut. I know many people had less than good experiences with it, but that practical help is far more important than many of the faith-based initiatives that I'm aware of.

Anonymous said...

My son, who is incarcerated says it would be a huge mistake to do away with the chaplain program. Brian's mom

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor that SB1 has been rewritten to include the chaplaincy at full funding as of 3/14/11. I hope it is true but I can't find anything in the news or lege website.