WCC wants more chaplains in correctional facilities
Several state prisons are short of the standard
The Wisconsin Catholic Conference is working with the
Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance to add more state
chaplains in several state correctional facilities.
The Conference wants to ensure that the number of state-employed
chaplains meets the American Correctional Association's standard
of one chaplain per 500 inmates. Prison census statistics show
that several state prisons are short of the standard.
"The right to a faith life is not left outside the walls of our
correctional facilities," said John Huebscher, conference
executive director. "Certainly, the First Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution guarantees that prisoners have the opportunity and
ability to worship, and oftentimes, it is within the correctional
system that the imprisoned turn to their faith, or develop a
faith life, as part of their journey toward reconciliation with
their community. Prison chaplains are the people within the
correctional system that can help the imprisoned understand the
gravity of their crimes and encourage inmates to change
The Conference is encouraging the Joint Committee on Finance to
add chaplains at Fox Lake Minimum and Medium Correctional
Institutions, Oshkosh Correctional Institution, Taycheedah
Correctional Institution, Racine Correctional Institution,
Oakhill Correctional Institution, and John C. Burke Correctional
Center. Two positions also are needed at the Stanley Correctional
Center when it begins accepting inmates.
"Research demonstrates that an inmate who returns to a supportive
family, a strong faith and employment is more likely to live
responsibly and less likely to re-offend," Huebscher said.
"Prison chaplains are often able to help inmates maintain or make
these important connections, and help prisoners develop a
spiritual and moral framework that will give them the strength to
reform their lives."
The Finance Committee will consider the Conference's position as
it continues its work on the state's biennial budget bill.