The staff of the Pastoral Care Department is here to help you find the strength and spiritual resources to make it through this time -and even begin thinking about rebuilding your life for the future. Whether you are coming here with a strong faith background or are groping for spiritual reality for the first time, the chaplains want to walk through this time with you. The Constitution of the United States guarantees the right for you to practice your religion -even in prison. There is a richness of cultural and religious diversity in each unit and a cultivation of tolerance and understanding of people of all races and religious traditions. The Pastoral Care Department is to protect your religious freedom within the limits of security, sanitation, good order of the institution and availability of funds. The chaplains will try to meet your needs for worship, prayer, and study within these limits. Please contact one of the chaplains if you have any concerns or needs, including the observance of religious holy days. Request for approval of holy day observance must be submitted to the Religious Services office in writing 30 days before the event. Those requesting to be excused from work for approved holy days must apply in writing to the chaplain no less than 15 days prior to the holy day. It is important that a sincerely held religious belief related to medical concerns be communicated to the institution medical staff. A written communication regarding specific beliefs related to medical concerns or death should be placed in the Central File.
Who are the chaplains?
There are three staff chaplains at MDC Guaynabo: Chaplains Joyce Caulfield, Juan Cintron and Bradley Green. There are additional chaplains from a variety of religious preferences who also come to assist in the institution. Contact a staff chaplain if you would like to see a representative from your religious preference.
What are some of the things offered?
There are two key places in your unit to watch to keep yourself informed of what is going on in the Pastoral Care Department. One is the glass cabinet located in either the recreation yard or the entrance to the units. There you will find a monthly schedule of religious videos which are shown on the closed circuit TV system, a schedule of the chaplains’ work hours, a schedule of religious services for the month, as well as other important information that may change from time to time. If your religion is not included on the schedule, speak to one of the chaplains or send a “cop out” to explain your religious request. If there is a conflict between your work and a religious service, please inform the chaplains and they will try to resolve it. If you have a request to introduce a new or unfamiliar component to a religious program, please contact a chaplain.
The other place to watch is the display board next to the entrance of the chapel. The unit chapel is located at the top of the stairs on the second level. A schedule of activities is posted in the display board, along with upcoming musical reflections or conferences. There are many times during the day when the chapel is available for private prayer or reflection. Please feel free to take advantage of those times.
Each unit chapel will have a TV tuned only to the closed circuit channels which broadcasts the religious services videos and unit schedules. The televisions in the chapels are authorized for use only on the religious services closed circuit channels. There is also a shelf in the chapel where you will find literature and pamphlets for you to take. Diverse religious books may also be requested from the education library. A listing of books will be placed in each unit chapel. Books may be checked out for a two week period, by submitting an Inmate Request to Staff to the Institution Library or to the Chaplaincy Office. It is the responsibility of each inmate to personally return books to Library Staff or Chaplaincy Staff. Cooperation will be requested from all inmates regarding the timely return of checked-out items. Overdue resources will be reclaimed by Library or Chaplaincy Staff.
Ordinarily, each faith group will have one designated time for weekly worship or prayer with a staff chaplain, volunteer or contractor. Normally, inmates will be allowed to give primary leadership during a religious activity only when the faith group is of a different faith orientation than the institution chaplains, and when community leadership is not available. Services led by inmates require the presence of an employee in the service. Every effort will be made to assure fair and equitable accommodation of all faith groups.
How do I get a sacred book?
You may find a Bible, New Testament, and Koran, Torah or other donated religious book of your preference on the shelves in the chapel. If not, speak to one of us or send a “cop-out” requesting the book you need. Some religious books are also available for sale through Commissary Special Purchase Orders. Hardcover publications, softcover publications, religious newspapers and magazines and other similar items are to be sent from the publisher, from a book club or from the bookstore. These items may not be sent from your home. The item should be sent in an envelope, not a box. Inmates are authorized to maintain five books and five magazines and 2 newspapers in their property.
How about Personal Religious Items?
Certain personal religious items may be authorized. Please consult with the chaplains if you have questions about what those objects may be. They can provide you with items such as rosaries, scapulars and some Sacred Books which have been donated to the institution. Most other approved items must be purchased on Special Purchase Orders through the Commissary. There is a standard color and style of religious headwear for each faith requiring such items and is limited to three per inmate. If the authorized headwear is not available in Commissary, the chaplains have catalogs of items available and will process the paperwork for you. It will often require two months for a Special Purchase order to arrive. Ordinarily, personal religious items may not be sent from home.
What if I want a visit from the pastor or other spiritual leader of my church?
Pastoral Visits are ordinarily arranged during regular visiting hours on Monday mornings or evenings. This is subject to change if the inmate is housed in the Special Housing Unit. You may initiate a pastoral visit by submitting an “Inmate Request to Staff Member” to the chaplains. Please ask that your pastor or faith representative contact a chaplain at the institution so that the procedures and requirements for pastoral visits can be explained. If the chaplains are contacted by an outside pastoral agent who wishes to initiate a pastoral visit with you, a chaplain will confer with you as to whether or not you want the visit.
In order to request and process a pastoral visit as one of a minister of record, the religion of the spiritual leader, clergy person or official faith representative will be verified as that of your religion of record. You may identify a pastor of record in writing and the clergy person or the official faith representative you identify will also need to submit a request in writing to the chaplains for consideration as the minister of record. You may have only one minister of record at a time. The minister of record will not be counted against the total number of authorized social visits allowed. Visits from clergy or faith representatives other than the minister of record will ordinarily count against the total number of visits allowed.
What if my religion requires a special diet?
The Bureau of Prisons offers a two pronged religious diet program which includes a no-flesh mainline option and a certified processed food component. Participation in the certified processed food component implies restrictions. The orientation regarding removal from the Religious Diet Program will include making the individual aware that a participant may not take, receive or eat food, other than fruits and vegetables, from the regular mainline, nor purchase andlor consume foods from the Commissary considered non-certified by the inmate=s religion. A violation may lead to a suspension from the certified processed food component. Speak to a chaplain or send a “cop out” to request admittance to the religious diet having certified processed food. The no-flesh option is available to all. Simply send an “Inmate Request to Staff’ to Food Service.
Can I get married in prison?
Marriage in prison, especially a detention facility, is complicated, but is possible. Your case manager or counselor can acquaint you with details about getting married as well as providing you with the necessary form(s). The chaplains will be happy to provide you with counsel. The chaplains are required to verify some credentials of the individual you choose to celebrate the ceremony. This verification may require an extended period of time, so please identify a person who will conduct the ceremony as soon as possible when making plans to get married.
What about family emergencies?
In the event of a family emergency, a call can be placed to the institution at (787)749-4480, and information can be left with the operator. The operator will notify the chaplains who will, in turn, notify you once the information is verified. Every effort will be made to provide you with a call to your family. It is rare for an inmate to be able to attend a funeral etc., but your case manager will be able to provide you with the appropriate orientation. Requests regarding visits to hospitals to see family members should also be directed to the Unit Team. Please be sure to give your family the institution phone number.
What else does the department provide?
The chaplains are available for pastoral care and to pray with you. They will keep the material discussed confidential, with one exception. If you were to indicate that you were going to harm yourself or other(s), the chaplain would try to help you find a better solution to your problem or situation and also make the appropriate referrals.
The chaplains have information regarding a large number and variety of religious studies correspondence courses and most of them are free of charge. Many inmates find them a great way to take advantage of their time here. There is a list of courses for various faiths in the unit chapel.
The Health Services Administrator will notify the chaplain when an inmate is in the process of making a decision regarding whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full term. The chaplain will offer the individual the opportunity for pastoral orientation. An inmate who wishes to participate in a religious fast of hisher faith is required to submit a written request to the chaplain at least sixty (60) days prior to the fast or meal. Food arrangements for individual fasts are not accommodated by the Religious Services Department.
The observance of a once a year religious or ceremonial meal by a religious group in the institution will be in accordance with policy. An inmate desiring to participate in a ceremonial meal should submit a written request at least sixty (60) days before the meal. Participants who will receive the religious or ceremonial meal for the faith group celebration will be determined by the religious preference as indicated in the computer system. An individual may take part in only one ceremonial meal per calendar year.
There is a procedure in policy regarding the introduction of new and unfamiliar religious components into the religious services program. When requested, a chaplain will be available to provide an orientation regarding these procedures. Any inmate who wishes to donate to a religious organization, program or charity may do so with the assistance and approval of their respective Unit Manager, in accordance with the Program Statement on Inmate Contributions.
Initially, the unit team will enter your religious preference in the computer system. Please verify to assure that your religious preference is entered correctly. If it is not correct, please inform a chaplain in writing of your need to change or correct your religious preference. A Chaplain will bring you the required paperwork for you to authorize the change. The directives dictated by your religious preference as shown in the computer system will ordinarily be followed in emergency or death situations.
Residential Life Connections Pre-Release Pilot Program
The Bureau of Prisons has implemented the Life Connections Program, a pilot residential pre-release program in low, medium and high security institutions. It is open to inmates of all faiths or those still seeking a spiritual grounding. The program provides opportunities for the development and maturation of the participating inmates’ faith commitment. To foster personal growth and responsibility and to right the relationship among the victim, the community, and the offender, the program will use the offender’s faith commitment to bring reconciliation and restoration. An individual must be within 24 to 60 months of projected release date. The program duration is eighteen (18) months. If you are interested in knowing more about this multi-faith program, the selection criteria, the institutions where the programs are being implemented, the activities and curriculum or the responsibilities of the participants, please contact a chaplain.
Whatever your questions or concerns, let the chaplains know! Communication from outside the institution can be directed to the chaplains at:
Metropolitan Detention Center P. 0.Box 2008 Catafio, PR 00963-2008 Telephone: (787) 749-4480