TDOC recognizes the key role religion plays in helping offenders cope with incarceration and in preparing them for success after release. All Tennessee institutions have a professional chaplain and numerous volunteer chaplains who are available to minister to offenders 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 offenders, 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 offenders of all faiths.
The Department of Correction is committed to ensuring that all offenders are afforded the right to practice their chosen religion.
In 2014, the Department launched an initiative called Take One, a partnership with faith-based organizations in Tennessee to offer services to men and women leaving prison. Take One is a collaboration of faith-based organizations in East, Middle and West Tennessee that will provide supportive services and credible role models to assist in the offenders overall adjustment to society. These organizations will provide the offender with a wide variety of supportive services to assist them in their transition home during their first year of release.
Policy 118.01 Religious Programs (in pdf format) (140 kb)