Editor's Note: This article is the first of a three part series written by members of the American Correctional Chaplains Association about the role of chaplains in the corrections community.

little known piece of the American Correctional Association's history is that in June 1886, a fellowship of prison chaplains preceded the Wardens Association by six months in becoming ACA's first affiliate. That group, known today as the American Correctional Chaplains Association, is stronger than ever in its partnership with ACA.

Correctional chaplains, similar to their counterparts in the military and in hospitals, provide spiritual care to those who are disconnected from the general community by certain circumstances. This is the case with those who are incarcerated and with correctional staff and their families who often find themselves isolated. Each correctional chaplain is also a representative of his or her particular faith group and is required to be endorsed by a religious body in order to become a chaplain.

Correctional chaplains are professionals with specialized training in the unique dynamics of the correctional system and institutional security. They may be seen as:

As one can see, correctional chaplains are so much more than preachers. They have developed into a specialized field of pastoral ministry and have a unique role that is essential to the mission of corrections, of orderly and secure confinement and rehabilitation. Looking to the future, correctional chaplains seek greater collaboration with other professionals. Since one of their goals is for inmates to experience successful re entry into the community, they continue to seek new partnerships within the field of community corrections.

For further information on current chaplaincy related issues, activities and resources, please visit ACCA's Web site at www.correctionalchaplains.org.

Chaplain Paul E. Rogers is president of the American Correctional Chaplains Association and chairman of the American Correctional Association's ad hoc committee on religion and faith based services. He serves as chaplain at Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wis.

February 2003 Corrections Today