FDC Houston enjoys and respects much religious diversity in our population. In addition to the Staff Chaplains and contract staff, a large number of volunteers facilitate religious programs. Religious services are provided on each unit. There is a schedule in each unit which indicates religious services, programs, and activities. All religious services/programs are open to all inmates, without regard to race, color, nationality, or creed. Ordinarily, when the nature of the service or practice (e.g. religious fasts, wearing of head-wear, work proscription, ceremonial meals) indicates a need for such a limitation, only those inmates whose religious preference is appropriate will be allowed to participate. If you feel that your faith group is not represented on the chapel schedule, you can write a cop-out (request to staff) or visit the Chaplains to discuss your needs. The chapel schedule is designed to meet the needs of the inmate population.
Religious Accommodation and Limitations
All teachings must be religious in nature
No anti-government rhetoric
No support for religious or political radicalization
No support for violence
No preaching or teaching in foreign languages (except sacred language studies)
No profanity or cursing
No discrimination based on race, gender, color, or national origin
No disparaging of other religions, their sacred books, beliefs or practices
No language or behavior that could reasonably be construed as a threat to the safety, security, or orderly running of the institution
All religious service providers, including staff, contractors, and volunteers will be held to the same standard operating procedures. Violation of these procedures may result in a temporary or permanent restriction of group activities in the chapel.
Certain religious traditions require dietary restrictions as part of their practice. In an effort to accommodate the variety of traditions, the Bureau of Prisons has instituted a menu of certified processed foods called the Religious Diet. The Religious Diet Program is a religiously motivated diet program. It will not be approved for any inmate based on medical motivation or simple dietary preference. Inmates wishing to be placed on the Religious Diet Program will notify a Chaplain. Those inmates who can demonstrate their religious beliefs mandate dietary restrictions which cannot be met through selective use of mainline menus can apply for a Religious Diet. Inmates participating in the Religious Diet observed eating from the mainline will be removed for up to 30 days. In addition, those who purchase and/or consume non-certified foods from the Commissary may also be removed for up to 30 days.
Religious Head Wear and Property
Inmates who are members of such religious groups are authorized to wear the religious headwear of their faith group of record. For some, the headwear may be restricted to be worn during appropriate religious services. For others, their headwear use may be unrestricted. Religious insignia, such as necklaces, medallions, medals, buttons and jewelry may not be worn with public display. It should be worn inside your shirt. Such items can be openly worn during appropriate religious services. Personal religious property may not be received from home. You may purchase personal religious property with the assistance of a Chaplain via a Special Purchase Order.
Religious Leaders and Volunteer Visits
Religious leaders who have a ministerial relationship with an inmate may arrange for pastoral visits. Request for pastoral visits need to be made in writing by the religious leader on a letter-head from the organization within which the leader holds religious credentials. Visits are held in the inmate visiting room on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. There should be a correlation between the religious leader’s faith and the inmate’s religious preference of record.
Should there be an outside emergency, your family should contact the institution. It is important the caller provide information to verify the emergency, for example, the name of a funeral home, hospital, or police agency. Upon verification of the information, the Chaplain, if present, will inform you of the nature of the emergency and assist you in making an emergency phone call. The Chaplains are authorized to assist you with an emergency phone call during a personal emergency.