The Department of Corrections provides Chaplaincy Services in order to address the religious needs of inmates and to promote the public welfare.
“The Legislature finds and declares that faith-based programs offered in state and private correctional institutions and facilities have the potential to facilitate inmate institutional adjustment, help inmates assume personal responsibility, and reduce recidivism.” 944.803 FS
It is the policy of the Department to extend to all inmates the greatest amount of freedom and opportunity for pursuing individual religious beliefs and practices consistent with the security and good order of the institution. Programs of the Department and activities of the Chaplains shall be designed to assist inmates in the expansion of their knowledge and understanding of and commitment to the beliefs and principles of their respective religions. 33-503.001 (2) FAC
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Chaplains schedule regular services for inmates. The prison chapel serves the entire inmate population and all of the 111 different religions among inmates in Florida. To provide effectively to such a diverse population, the Chaplains utilize nearly 6,000 volunteers. Each month 42% of the inmate population takes part in at least one service or activity scheduled by Chaplaincy Services.
One of the more recent trends in prison ministry is to provide life skills training to inmates. Religious volunteers teach about practical life management skill and come at it from the perspective of their faith. Topics include personal money management, parenting roles and responsibilities, anger management, employability skills, community citizenship, marriage enrichment, effective communication, problem solving, and managing emotions.
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Mentoring is a program that matches one inmate with one volunteer for the purpose of assisting the inmate to develop personal responsibility and emotional maturity. Many volunteers are needed to commit to being mentors. Those that already do mentor inmates indicate that it is one of the most personally rewarding volunteer tasks they have ever done.