The simple answer is "Yes, inmates can get married." When an inmate decides to get married, the first step is to submit an inmate request form to the Chaplain requesting to be married. The Chaplain tells the inmate about the information and forms they must provide in order for a decision to be made. This includes:
- a letter from both parties indicating their desire to marry;
- parental permission for any party under 18 years of age;
- court papers indicating the termination of a marriage(s) if either party was previously married; or in the case of a marriage ending by the death of a spouse, a copy of the death certificate is required.
The information is reviewed thoroughly before the request is approved or denied. It is only when the request is approved that plans for a ceremony can begin. Marriage ceremonies in prison are normally held in the visitation park. A prison marriage ceremony is not elaborate and attendance is necessarily restricted.
Spiritual Advisor visits are designed to allow the inmate to visit with the spiritual advisor of his/her choice. A request for a spiritual advisor visit is initiated by the inmate or by a clergy-person. However, the spiritual advisor visit will only take place with the inmate's active consent. The inmate must submit an inmate request form to the chaplain for a visit.
In all cases, sufficient advance notification is required. Normally, the inmate lets the chaplain know a minimum of a week in advance. The Warden finalizes the approval for the spiritual advisor visit. The visiting clergy person should bring clergy identification. The visit will be one-on-one with the inmate. The spiritual advisor for the inmate should contact the institution's chaplain to confirm the time and location of the spiritual advisor visit. An immediate family member or fiancÚ may not serve as a spiritual advisor.
Florida has over 140 prison facilities, including 60 major institutions, 12 annexes, 41 work/forestry camps, 30 work release centers and five road prisons. There are 66 chaplains assigned to major institutions. Though the work/forestry camps, work release centers, treatment center and road prisons do not have a full-time Chaplain assigned, all benefit from an active schedule of religious activities and services. Chaplains, administrators and volunteers work together to provide a well rounded schedule of religious opportunities for inmates in Florida prisons. The administrative staff at every Florida DC location know to contact a chaplain who will respond to the needs of every location.
Unfortunately, every family faces crisis occasionally. It is important to notify incarcerated family members when a real emergency takes place. In order to do this:
- You will need to know the inmate’s DC number and the institution where the family member inmate is residing. You can use the inmate search function located at www.dc.state.fl.us/ ActiveInmates if you do not already have this information.
- Then make a telephone call to the institution where the family member inmate is residing. Ask to speak with the Chaplain or someone in the Warden’s office. Be ready with the information you wish to communicate. You can locate the telephone numbers of all of the correctional institutions by using the links to the regions at our website located at: www.dc.state.fl.us/ orginfo/facilitydir.html.
- The institution will see that your loved one is notified and may be able to permit a special telephone call during the family emergency.
Inmates are permitted to possess religious books and publications. Space is limited so this privilege is limited to what can be stored in the inmate’s space. Be sure to check with the chaplain at the institution in order to get accurate instructions on what can be sent and how to send it. Check Florida Administrative Codes 33-210.101 Routine Mail and 33-501.401 Admissible Reading for details. Answers to additional FAQs on this topic are available.
Inmates are permitted to possess one religious medallion that is no more than 2 inches in length or diameter, with a combined value (medallion and chain) of $50 or less. Check with the Chaplain at the correctional institution for mailing instructions. See 33-602.201 FAC for additional information.
16,000 Florida citizens, just like you, contribute thousands of hours of valuable service in Florida prisons. The involvement of volunteers is an opportunity that is both an important public service and a rewarding experience. Each volunteer has a job description that defines the type of service that volunteer is able to offer. Volunteers in Chaplaincy Services provide:
- weekly worship services,
- they teach religious education classes,
- they keep the chapel open in the chaplains absence,
- they visit inmates who may not be able to visit the chapel,
- they hold seminars and participate in a wide variety of special events.
Some come for a couple of hours each month, and some give numerous hours each week. The level of involvement is based on institutional need and volunteer availability.
The usual process for becoming a volunteer is to contact the institution or facility where the volunteer work will be done. Approval, training and scheduling are managed locally so it is important to make contact with the department at the institution. You can find more information on volunteering and an application at fldocjobs.com/volunteer.
The Faith- and Character-Based Residential Program is an innovative effort to reduce recidivism and disciplinary infractions in correctional institutions by offering character-based programming in a positive environment to inmates committed to inner transformation. Without regard to the inmates religion, this initiative offers inmates a variety of activities and classes (both religious and secular) focused on personal growth and character development.
Tthis initiative employs residential clustering to concentrate program offerings among like-minded inmates, utilizes mentors and provides an open public forum for community volunteers interested in making a difference in inmates' lives. Volunteer programming is rich with positive reinforcement designed to help inmates take well-defined steps toward mature and responsible living. Participating inmates have a lower than average rate of disciplinary infractions.
Any inmate may submit an inmate request form and ask to be placed in one of these programs. The selection of inmates is a computerized process where the computer identifies eligible inmates. All inmate transfers are initiated and scheduled by classification staff. Inmates who are eligible for the FCB residential program are routinely interviewed to determine if the inmate wants to be enrolled in a Faith and Character Based (FCB) residential program. Those that want to participate are given a FCB Orientation workbook as the entry step to the FCB residential program. Inmates who successfully complete the workbook are eligible for the next step in the program. Assignment to an institution with a faith-based residential program is made as beds become available. Inmate interest continues to be widespread so the beds in the FCB residential programs are easy to fill.
The Department of Corrections employs over 66 men and women as Chaplains at Correctional Institutions around the State. Positions open randomly as employees retire, move on, or for other reasons leave departmental employment. Vacant Chaplaincy positions are listed on the Internet with all other open positions in State government. Open positions are posted for up to two weeks on the State of Florida People First website. Interested applicants should follow the instructions given on the posting and submit appropriate applications.
You can find a link to currently posted positions at peoplefirst.myflorida.com. Select an area of interest on the Florida map that appears on the left side of the page. That will take you to a “Vacancy Search” page. In searching for vacant chaplain positions you will fill in as follows:
- In the box labeled CATEGORY select “Philosophy & Theology.”
- In the box labeled AGENCY select “DC- Corrections.”
- In the box labeled SELECT OCCUPATION select “Clergy.” That is enough to narrow your search sufficiently. You may fill in the others but it is not necessary to get results.
- Hit the SEARCH button. This query will only yield results when there are vacant Chaplain positions that are posted so don’t be disturbed when the search yields no results. Positions are normally posted for two weeks at a time. For best results, search Florida vacancy listings regularly.
Individuals who are interested in a Chaplaincy position will have the following minimum qualifications:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university (Majoring in Ministry, religion or humanities)
- Ordination or equivalent with an organized religious body
- Minimum of one year full time ministry experience
- Denominational or ecclesiastical endorsement.
- Pass a security background check.