Mission Statement

It shall be the purpose of the American Correctional Chaplains Association [ACCA], an affiliate of the American Correctional Association [ACA], to:

  • serve as a professional organization for pastoral care personnel in the corrections field,
  • provide a network for the sharing of information and resources amongst its members and with corrections administrators,
  • formulate standards for chaplaincy and religious programming in correctional facilities,
  • develop and implement certification for correctional chaplains,
  • advance the role of correctional chaplains, and
  • communicate the religious and spiritual aspects of corrections to the larger community.

The following were excerpted from Brooklyn Law School’s Brooklyn Law Review 477:

Spiritual development and religious study are perhaps “the most valuable tools for rehabilitation and to prevent recidivism.” As one commentator noted:

Religion in prison can help an inmate ‘prepare for a socially useful life.’ In fact, it has been suggested that free exercise violations can be even more harmful to prisoners than to free persons because prisoners’ ‘means of spiritual recovery are limited by the prison environment’ … Religion plays a crucial role in managing a prison and the ‘positive effect that religion can have on an inmate is immeasurable.’

Indeed, prison officials recognize the importance of religious involvement in prison. As an assistant state commissioner of corrections commented,

” ’In a state of incarceration, especially when you’re doing heavy time, you don’t have many hope pegs to hang your being on. Religion is one of those hope pegs.’ ”

Even the courts have recognized that “stripping a prisoner of the opportunity to maintain and strengthen his religious and ethical values would be so counterproductive of good sentencing principles as to require reconsideration of incarceration.”

As an observant Jewish inmate housed in New York’s Sing Sing prison remarked,

” ‘I was never very observant or knowledgeable before I came to the prison. Everything I know, I learned here. I have discovered great knowledge and inspiration. I finally found myself. I was lost in the world.’ “