The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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April 20, 2001 Issue
Local News

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 behaviors."

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.

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