How many chaplains and inmates are there in Virginia?

  • GraceInside provides 30 Christian chaplains to 30,000 adults in Virginia’s prisons, 6 are currently employed full-time.  Two of those full-time chaplains serve two different facilities.

What is a chaplain?

  • Chaplains are specially trained and qualified clergy ministering in an institutional setting such as a hospital, school or prison often requiring additional clinical training and credentials.

Who pays for GraceInside?

  • Founded in 1920 by Christian denominations, we continue to be a privately funded Christian organization accepting no state tax payer money.  We rely on individual donors, churches, businesses, foundations and denominations for our support.  We also receive support from the Inmate Commissary Fund.

What does a GraceInside prison chaplain do?

  • GraceInside’s chaplains are Christian on-site pastors responsible for coordinating all religious activities (regardless of faith) as well as preaching, teaching, pastoral care and administrative duties.

Do you get any money from tax-payers?

  • No.  We do receive some support from the Inmate Commissary Fund.  Inmates purchase items from a commissary and proceeds are designated to enhance the life of the incarcerated.  GraceInside contracts with the Department of Correction and receives funding from the “Inmate Commissary Fund” to provide chaplains.
GraceInside is a Christian organization.  How does it interact with those of other faith groups?
  • As Christians, we seek to be representatives of Christ’s love to everyone, regardless of faith affiliation. GraceInside employs expressly Christian staff and chaplains. We believe religious matters should be managed by religiously educated staff.  For the past 95 years, we have had professing Christian clergy serving as chaplains inside the state prisons. By the very nature of chaplaincy in any institutional setting – and also by our contract with the Virginia Department of Corrections – we assist other faith groups in receiving the care they need by serving as the overall religious program coordinators assigning appropriate space and volunteer time.
Can you address your connection to Muslim Chaplain Service of Virginia?
  • Because of the trust and reputation the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) has with GraceInside, the Virginia DOC asked GraceInside to manage a subcontract with Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia (MCSVA).  As such, we are a pass-through organization used by the DOC to provide services mandated by law to those following the Muslim faith.  None of the money donated to GraceInside is used for this subcontract.  The subcontract is entirely funded by the Virginia DOC.  The subcontract with MCSVA (and possible future subcontracts with representative organizations for other recognized faith groups) demonstrates the DOC’s confidence in GraceInside as the overall coordinator/manager of religious programs and services for its facilities, placing us in a position of strength.  All money donated to GraceInside is used to support GraceInside’s mission and ministry to place Christian chaplains inside Virginia’s prisons.

What would GraceInside do with more support?

  • Our dream is to increase staffed hours at each facility until we provide full-time chaplains in every major institution – including the Department of Juvenile Justice, which currently has no chaplain at all.

How much money does GraceInside need to reach the next goal of full-time chaplains?

  • To meet full staffing at all institutions, we need $2,283,386.00, 1.2 million more than current funding. We need 20 cents from every Christian in the state of Virginia each year.

Incarceration in Virginia: Just the Facts

  •  According to the Federal Bureau of Statistics, Virginia incarcerates the 13th highest number of inmates in all 50 states, more than 32,270 men and women in 2011.
  •  In Virginia, 90% of men and close to 98% of women will return to life outside prison
  •  12,345 inmates were released from state facilities in 2011 and 11,140 more took their place.
  •  63000 additional people in Virginia are being followed by probation or, if sentenced before 1995, parole.
  •  2/3 of released inmates will return to prison within three years.  After three years, Virginia’s rate of recidivism is less than 23%
  •  6 million dollars was spent in 2010 on total cost of Virginia’s prisons – more than 25,129 dollars per inmate.
  •  47% of inmates under state jurisdiction are incarcerated for non-violent offenses
  •  61% of inmates are 39 or younger.
  •  Non-white groups are incarcerated at higher rates than white groups.
  •  According to American Correctional Association auditing standards, every facility with over 500 Inmates needs a full-time chaplain.

Unless otherwise noted, statistics on incarceration are from

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Prisoners in 2011”