4. Prison Ministry -- How it is here: email

email 4 of 4: Is this how it is in your local jail or prison? This is how it is here.

4/1/20234 min read


Until you can get face-to-face access to defendants and inmates while they are in their cells, providing spiritual literature can be a ministry.

The book cart is a pharmacy.

It can reduce the need for psychotropic medication in a way that is sustainable.

There are a significant number of monolingual Spanish speaking defendants and inmates in the Main Adult Detention Facility. I do not know if there are in the Youth Detention Facility. Our local jail has very limited literature in Spanish.

As for literature in English, a few of the carts probably have a small-type King James version Bible or outdated calendar based Christian tracts, some a few good contemporary novels, and most of them poor quality horror or romance novels.

Due to chronic stress, some defendants and inmates have a short attention span, and will need literature such as short stories and religious themed romance novels. Longer novels are appreciated by people acclimated to the high levels of stress. It depends on the demographic of who is currently incarcerated, how accustomed they have become to the chronic stress, etc.

How will you know if the literature you donated was made easily accessible for any appropriate inmate or defendant to get in their hands?

Get it in writing.

Why wouldn’t the person responsible for ensuring access to the book carts put it in writing?

Is the defendant or inmate unnecessarily required to have on waist chains and leg shackles in order to access the book cart?

Does their security level make sense based on who they actually are and what they did or supposedly did?

The person responsible for the book selections at the County of *** Main Adult Detention Facility is *** ***** Inmate Service Coordinator at (***) ***-****, ***.*****@********.org. He does not respond to voicemails and emails concerning defendant and inmate services and seems to have no accountability.

When you do get access to defendants and inmates in their cells, verify they have access to the literature.

Get their feedback on what type of literature helped them and others.

The Main Adult Detention Facility does not provide ‘reader’ glasses to defendants and inmates even if they are needed to read legal documents.

They may not advise a defendant or inmate they can request a pair from Friends Outside which is a non-profit agency located in the jail currently allowed to facilitate the distribution of glasses.

Friends Outside may not have a pair to give away or they may be unstaffed. You can ask Friends Outside if they are accepting donations of glasses. They seem to be heavily influenced by jail staff, so document your communication with them.

Every ‘mod’ or modular unit, which is a section of cells, has a library cart.

These books should be available on every library cart:

* New Jerusalem Bible; preferably with large type.

* literature with daily Bible readings only if it has current dates, otherwise it is demeaning in a manner Christian literature shouldn't be.

* 12 Step-Literature: Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book and 12&12, Narcotics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Co-dependents Anonymous books.

* Ancillary 12 step literature, particularly books with short stories and other easy to digest material. For example, there are 12 step books in English and Spanish specifically for people in prison.


* books that teach life skills for adults with a Christian message

* autobiographies, biographies and novels with a Christian message

* romance novels for both sexes with Christian message

* comic books (called graphic novels) with a Christian message

* Great, classic literature with a Christian message is appreciated

To reiterate, you need to confirm the literature you provided will be put on the carts, made accessible to all defendants and inmates, and to make staff verify it has been made accessible to all defendants and inmates until you can talk to defendants and inmates face-to face in their cells and verify it yourself. The difference between talking to someone in a visiting booth versus while they are in their cell is very significant.

I recently discovered the MADF staff will tell people the defendants and inmates are given a guide that explains the rules to them and how to participate in ministry groups or request a visit from a member of a ministry team, but they will deny the fact that sometimes the staff does not provide the guide.

The staff also allows very few defendants and inmates to participate in groups, if they hold groups at all.

You can ask for verification about what groups meet, how frequently, and who is allowed to attend.

The only way to truly verify, is to eye witness what groups met, how many defendants or inmates attended, and how frequently they were held.

A list of restorative justice ministries and phone numbers is not in the rule books for defendants and inmates, if they are even given one;

if one asks to talk to a priest,

a volunteer unaffiliated with one’s faith may be eventually provided,

sometimes after weeks,

and the volunteer may not speak willingly or clearly with the defendant or inmate

and may make it clear they will not report illegal staff behavior or assist with access to legal advocacy, including to a public defender.

Also, staff may say they are not legally permitted to provide information about the chain of command.

The situation is worse for people in behavioral health hospitals.

They may not be allowed access to

phone directories,

legal representation,

or restorative justice ministry assistance.

The staff will lie about it or say it’s policy even when it isn’t.

They have even less recourse for procuring glasses—none at all.

In some places, aside from the more serious issues like a use of excessive force culture, people are essentially forced to watch poor quality television and there is no literature offered. It is unnecessarily soul-damaging on every level.

Do you know to what restorative justice ministry a person who was illegally held or just needed assistance from a behavioral health mental hospital could reach out? Is it posted on a wall where someone could find it when they need it?

There is such ignorance around behavioral health issues.

Isn’t voluntary commitment usually due to depression or fatigue

and involuntary commitment due to law enforcement deceit

or emotional neglect,

all of which could be resolved with adequate ministry?

Perhaps some of these issues have been corrected recently, but don't believe reports it has been corrected unless you document it first-hand over a period of time.

Thank you very much for your effort to provide ministries to people in detention facilities and behavioral health mental hospitals.

I prefer to remain anonymous.