Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a jail and a prison?
There are several. Jails are county facilities, operated by County Sheriffs or in places like Kentucky, Jailers. Prisons are state or federal institutions. Other than holding cells in some police stations, jails are the first place of incarceration in the US criminal justice system. Those arrested may remain in jail while their legal situation is resolved. If they are convicted and sentenced to serve a year or less this time may be served in a jail facility. Generally, sentences of a longer duration will be served in a prison. Only those who have been convicted of a specific crime and given a determinate sentence will be housed in prisons. One metaphor often used is, "jail is to prison what the emergency room is to the hospital."
What are the religious rights of those in jail?
This will vary from state to state. Currently the minimum jail standards for the state of Ohio (rev. 2003) says, "Prisoners shall be permitted to practice a recognized religion subject to limitations prescribed by law." The "limitations" have to do with safety and security issues.
Are the people in jail required to attend worship services or see a chaplain?
Attendance at any religious gathering is voluntary. Prisoners may request to see a chaplain. On occasion, jail staff may request a chaplain to check in on a particular prisoner. In either event, prisoners may accept, decline or terminate a visit from the chaplain at any time.
Will you visit my loved one in jail?
Yes. We are glad to have one of our volunteer chaplains make such visits provided you give us permission to tell them you initiated the request. We will not, however, report back to you the content of our conversation.
Can you get a message or package to my loved one while s/he is incarcerated?
We are not permitted to take anything in or out for someone incarcerated. Detailed information about what is permitted and how to convey it can be found on the Hamilton County Sheriff's web site: www.hcso.org. It is possible, at times, to get a message to someone incarcerated, but this request is determined on a case-by-case basis. For more specifics, contact TJM.
Can you help me find out which facility my loved one is in?
This information may be found on the website of whatever county your loved one is housed. Some counties list them while others do not. The sites for the 10 counties in the Greater Cincinnati area are listed below. There is currently no comprehensive database for those incarcerated in jails at either a state or national level.
Hamilton County (OH) www.hcso.org
Butler County (OH)www.butlersheriff.org
Clermont County (OH)www.clermontsheriff.org
Clinton County (OH)http://clintonsheriff.com
Warren County (OH) www.wcsooh.org
Boone County (KY) www.boonecountyky.org/jl/default.aspx
Campbell County (KY) http://campbellcounty.ky.gov/ccdc/
Kenton County (KY) www.kentoncounty.org/county_officials/county_jailer/index.html
Dearborn County (IN) www.dearborncountysheriff.org
Franklin County (IN) www.franklincounty.in.gov/office/sheriff/
I want to be part of TJM's ministry but I don't want to go into the jails. How else can I help?
First, thank you. We appreciate your willingness to be among the laborers when the harvest is so great. There are a number of ways you can lend your gfts to our ministry: donate, bake cookies, pray and more. To learn specifically where you can get involved, click on our "Get Involved" tab above or click here.
How do I get my badge made or renewed for ministry in the jails?
How do we apply to be a Worship Team?
We're glad you asked. Click here.
Can I be on a Worship Team if I'm not part of a church/congregation?
No. Worship Teams conduct services in the name of a local church/congregation and, as such, our expectation is that Worship Team members will be part of a local church/congregation.
TJM already has a Worship Team from my particular denomination. Can my church apply anyway?
Yes. If God has laid it on your congregation's heart to serve in this way, TJM wants to be helpful in bringing that to fruition.
Adult Jail Chaplaincy
Why do you train so many people if you select only a relative few of them to be chaplains?
Jail ministry is dynamic in that the incarcerated population changes daily and the security staff may turn over more frequently than in prisons. Because of such, the needs of the ministry team must continually shift to parallel those changes. While TJM has a set criteria for its chaplains, some of those ministry needs remain fluid. For example, facilities may close [which decreases the demand for chaplains overall]; the number of incarcerated females may decrease [which decreases the need for female chaplains]; security concerns in the jail might heighten due to violence or other factors [which alters the amount of time and freedom chaplains may have in the facility]. In the end, the invitations are ministry driven.
Potential candidates are continually evaluated during the 13-week training against the current needs of the ministry. Those who complete the training but are not invited to become a TJM chaplain are placed on an "Inactive chaplain" list for a period of two years. If an opportunity becomes available in that time, TJM will make contact and invite them to serve inside one of the facilities.
That said, it has been our experience that most people who want to do this ministry end up doing it someplace, someday and feedback holds that our training is helpful whenever and wherever they do. Therefore, we will continue to offer the training to whomever is interested in attending.
Why do you keep inactive Adult Jail Chaplains in reserve for only two years?
After two inactive years, it is possible that a chaplain will have lost the benefits of the training. For that reason, TJM requires any chaplain who is inactive more than two years to take the training again.
Can I be a Chaplain if I have a friend or loved one incarcerated somewhere in the system?
Yes, but you may not have a contact with or visit a member of your family as a chaplain while they are incarcerated.
Can I be a Chaplain if I am formerly incarcerated?
Previous incarceration does not automatically prohibit a person from serving as a chaplain unless s/he was incarcerated in the last 12 months. As with all TJM programs a criminal background check is required. The Corrections Division of the Sheriff's Office will determine a person's eligibility around security issues based on the results of the criminal background check.
Clergy Contact Visiting
Do clergy have any visiting privileges other than through the Clergy Contact Visiting program?
It varies by county, but specific to Hamilton County, yes. Clergy are permitted extended non-contact visits provided they come at a reasonable hour (generally beginning 7:30 AM and concluding by 10:00 PM) and it is not busy. They are required to show documentation verifying their clergy status. (Preferred documents: Licenses to Solemnize Marriages, Ordination Certificate, or other official church/denominational identification. Business cards are not sufficient.) Clergy are not restricted to normal visiting days and hours, except as noted above, and the visit will not count against the prisoner's one allotted visit per visiting day.
Who may I visit through the Clergy Contact Visiting program?
You may visit any member of your your congregation or any prisoner who specifically requests see you. You may not randomly visit throughout the jail facilities and you may not visit family members through the Clergy Contact Visiting program.
Do you have additional questions we did not answer here? Please feel free to reach out with additional inquiries.