TDOC recognizes the key role religion plays in helping inmates cope with incarceration and in preparing them for success after release. All Tennessee institutions, but one, have a full-time professional chaplain and numerous volunteer chaplains who minister to inmates of all faiths.
Chaplains perform a variety of services. These include leading worship services, coordinating services by outside clergy, pastoral counseling, providing religious literature to inmates, teaching classes, coordinating outside volunteers, and notifying inmates of serious illness and death of family members.
To help chaplains provide these services, the position of Director of Religious Services was created in September of 2007. The director's role is to serve as the central point of contact for all religious activity and practices within the department, and to assist chaplains as they work with inmates of all faiths.
The growing religious diversity of Tennessee inmates is reflected in the fact that in August 2009, 72% of all inmates identified themselves as christian, while 23% had no religious preference. The remaining 5% represented 18 different faith traditions.
Seeing that all inmates have the right to practice their religion in such a diverse environment is challenging, but it is a high priority for the Division of Rehabilitative Services.
Policy 118.01 Religious Programs (in pdf format) (140 kb)