ACCA Certification & Requirements


The aim of certification by the ACCA is to establish and utilize particular standards by which competence in correctional ministry can be recognized.

Correctional chaplaincy is a unique vocation and calling. Persons incarcerated in our jails and prisons deserve a professional correctional chaplain who is familiar with and able to serve effectively in such a multi-cultural and multi-faith setting.

Correctional chaplaincy includes work in correctional administration and within the framework of the various institutions. The work includes pastoral care which creates an atmosphere in which both prisoner and staff feel the ministry of presence provided by the correctional chaplain.

The ACCA encourages all correctional chaplains to continue to grow within their chosen field by meeting the qualifications of a Certified Correctional Chaplain. 


1.    Membership in the ACCA.

2.    Ecclesiastical endorsement from religious endorsing agency of the candidate’s faith or religious judicatory.

3.    Education:
As described for the level of certification being sought.

4.    Clinical Pastoral Education as required for the level of certification being sought, one unit may be an approved equivalent. Documentation of CPE includes the self evaluation and CPE Supervisor evaluation of the unit.  Questions on equivalency may be directed to the Chair of the Certification Committee.

5.    One year full-time experience in a correctional setting as a chaplain.

6.    Adhere to the Code of Ethics –

7.    Payment of required fees ($10.00 with application and $50 when face-to-face interview is set with the Certification Committee.)

8.    Official copies and/or formal written documentation of the above requirements, 1 through 5.

9.    Letters of recommendation as required for the level of certification being sought:

a.  letter from immediate supervisor,

b.  letters from persons of candidate’s choice.

10.  Written paper demonstrating the competencies of a chaplain in a correctional setting, length as described in the category of certification being sought.

11.  Autobiography addressing personal, professional, and faith development (350-500) words.

12.  Dated Verbatim/s demonstrating pastoral competency as required for the category of certification being sought.

13.  Meet in person with an interview committee. This interview will focus on the Theory of Pastoral Care Competencies (TPC), Identity and Conduct Competencies (IDC), Pastoral Competencies (PAS), and Professional Competencies (PRO) as required for the level of certification being sought.

14. Adhere to the following Code of Ethics …


 Members of the American Correctional Chaplains Association are available for ministry to all prisoners and staff in jails, prisons, and other institutions in which they serve. Such ministry and outreach will be extended to all regardless of race, cause of confinement, sexual identity, creed, or religious belief. The following are areas in which members are available to assist:

  • Identify and utilization of the person’s spiritual resources
  • Clarification of their ethical standards and guidance for behavior in harmony with their spiritual values.
  • Guidance in deepening their sense of persona! worth
  • Enhancement of their relationship to their deity, to their family, and to society.


All members are spiritual leaders, other than inmates, who participate in ministry to the incarcerated. All Association members, volunteer or employed by the institution, uphold the highest personal conduct.  Unethical conduct that clearly violates the explicit agreement to abide by the acts of discipline described in this Code shall be grounds 
for disassociation by the members of this Association.


All members practice their ministry task as pastoral care providers through various religious activities. Chaplains function as religious professionals within the correctional setting and do not undertake roles that are contrary to 
that of pastoral care provider.  They are empowered by their religious judicatory to administer ordinances and/or sacraments, to counsel, and to provide worship and religious services for youth or adults in detention and correctional settingsAll members make use of their skill and training to maintain the integrity and enhance the image of religious ministry in a correctional setting. 


Confidentiality is respected by all members, oral and written communication is received with the expectation that such remains confidential and not divulged to others. An exception may be made where the content of such communication reveals danger to staff or prisoners and the prisoner is informed of the need for disclosureReligious faiths hold that confidentiality by their clergy or those with parallel designation is a sacred trust. The Seal of the Sacrament of Confession and parallel requirements by all faith groups in matters of confidentiality are recognized and respected.


Members continue professional development in personal growth, education, spirituality and understanding of correctional issues.  This development includes participation in meetings and training opportunities provided by this Association. 


Members meet and maintain requirements set by their particular faith groups.  Members maintain ties with their religious faith groups for purposes of support, vocational identity, accountability, evaluation, and fellowship.  Chaplains are
those members who are ordained or have parallel designation, or otherwise vocation ally identified, for correctional chaplaincy by their religious judicatory or its designated endorsing body representing the faith group. Chaplains are thus
authorized for religious ministry within jails or prisons as designated representatives the faith group.  Volunteers, lay and ordained or who have parallel designation, have approval from their religious judicatory or appropriate religious superior in the faith group to serve as a volunteer representing the faith group in a jail or prison. Members participate in a network or adherents to other faith groups for purposes of common concerns of correctional chaplaincy, sharing of training opportunities, informing the community of needs and objectives of correctional chaplaincy, and fellowship.  


Members relate to and cooperate with persons from other professional disciplines in their work environment and community.  The welfare of an individual may be enriched and enhanced by consultations and referrals by members to professionals from other disciplines.


Members are responsible for effective ministry within the institution they serve, whether responsibility is for the overall program or for one part of it.  Members exercise their ministry without influencing prisoners or staff to change their religious preference or faith.  Members conduct their ministry without communicating derogative attitudes toward other faiths.  Chaplains process all prisoner requests promptly, in order of urgency and without biasChaplains balance administrative duties with direct ministry through individual or group activities, which include religious services, spiritual activities, and pastoral counseling. 


Members are primarily involved in matters directly related to the religious portion of the prisoners’ institutional life and rehabilitationMembers maintain the highest ethical standard of behavior and avoid any social, personal, financial, or political situation that might discredit their ministryChaplains are responsible for planning, coordinating, and supervising all religious activities and services.  They are responsible for ministry to prisoners regardless of religious beliefs or affiliation, using outside sources for assistance when neededChaplains are responsible for preventing and correcting institutional policies and actions which distort, misuses, or suppress religious tenets and principles of all faith group adherents.  Chaplains uphold and promote standards for religious faith and practice within the institution which are in harmony with the Standard for Faith and Practice devised by this Association for youth and adult detention and prison institutions.

__________________________________________________________ Date _____________

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 I agree to abide by the Code of Ethics