While the role of rehabilitating people who have been convicted of a crime lies largely with the capable men and women serving as officers and guards in our prisons today, correctional chaplains minister to the prisoners' spiritual and family needs and help facilitate their re-entry into society as changed individuals. Becoming a prison chaplain requires intensive education and training, however, which special college, seminary and certification programs provide.
Prison chaplaincy training begins with obtaining the education and church requirements necessary to become a correctional chaplain. According to an article titled, "Prison Chaplain Career Opportunities" on the Change Career with Purpose website, prison chaplains must complete an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university and a Master of Divinity degree or equivalent from an American Theological School-accredited residential seminary or school of theology. Chaplains must also be ordained or members of a church, have at least two years' experience as ministry leader and be certified through the recognising endorsing body of his particular faith.
Opportunities for Online Study
Some schools offer online opportunities for prison chaplains to study for their certification if they have proper training and experience. Coursework teaches chaplains how to become effective listeners, serve people of many faiths, give advice, conduct visits, maintain confidentiality and minister in crisis situations, according to an article titled, "Saint James College Can Help You Learn to Become a Chaplain" on The Love Church website.
Christian Prison Chaplain Training
Several schools in the United States, including Aurora Chaplain Training Academy, The Chaplain Bible Institute and The Billy Graham Center Institute for Prison Ministries, offer training and certification programs for Christian prison chaplains. Coursework focuses on basic principles of prison ministry, the prison environment and culture, ethnic diversity in the prison population, contributing factors to criminal behaviour, family ministry, respecting authority and helping inmates change their behaviour through biblical principles and re-enter society as productive individuals.
Buddhist Prison Chaplain Training
The Buddhist faith actually has its own training program in the United Kingdom for those wishing to become prison chaplains. According to an article titled, "Needed: Buddhist Prison Chaplains" on the Angulimala website, Buddhist prison chaplains must be members of Angulimala (the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy) and regularly attend quarterly training workshops at The Forest Hermitage monastery in the United Kingdom. New chaplains must attend at least two workshops a year, and one per year thereafter. Workshops focus on Buddhist chaplains supporting and advising one another.
Islamic Prison Chaplaincy Training
Islamic scholars, chaplains, military personnel and Hartford Seminary in Connecticut all recognise the need for Muslim correctional chaplains, according to the "Frequently Asked Questions" portion of the Hartford Seminary website. Hartford's coursework focuses on the Muslim chaplain's role in birth, death or marriage rituals; Islamic law; applying Islamic ethics and morality to daily life situations; and interfaith relations. Students also work in an Islamic institution for a total of 240 hours (eight hours a week for 30 weeks).
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