Women’s Prisons Cut Significantly – But Our Commitment to Serve Remains

Three women’s prisons were hard hit by the changes in the recent contract between the VA DOC and GraceInside. While the incarceration rate is rising dramatically for women, chaplaincy to the three prisons was cut significantly. In spite of the losses, GraceInside remains committed to increasing essential chaplaincy hours for our incarcerated sisters.

With limited resources, the DOC made decisions about desired support minimums based on inmate population. This eliminated chaplaincy to Central Virginia Correctional Unit #13 from the contract entirely (65 monthly hours). Both Virginia Correctional Center for Women and Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women saw significant cuts from previous funding levels eliminated 79 monthly hours and 31 monthly hours respectively.  To restore these hours to their previous level would translate to $4375 monthly or $52,500 /annually.

Here’s the nitty gritty.

GraceInside has committed on faith:

  • to restore chaplaincy to CVCU#13 to the level of 55 hours a month, costing $1375 monthly and $16,500 annually. Over all this will be a decrease of 10 hours monthly. Should resources exceed expected costs, we are only too happy to increase hours as resources become available.
  • to restore chaplaincy to a total at VCCW of 87 hours a month, With contractual support at just 51 hours, this means GraceInside must find $900 dollars each month just to have a half-time chaplain at VCCW. Annually, this incurs a cost of $10,800. Previously blessed with a full-time chaplain, this will be a significant sacrifice for chaplain, staff, volunteers and inmates. Again, should resources radically exceed costs, GraceInside will be delighted to provide additional ministry.

For the largest women’s prison of 1250, GraceInside had already stepped out on faith in 2018 to add a second chaplaincy position, half-time, to the facility for a total of 260 monthly hours. GraceInside supported the second chaplaincy position and 43 hours of the primary chaplaincy position entirely with designated and general funds of $3250 each month. To restore the lost hours would add a cost of $775 monthly for a total monthly need of $4,025. This is a significant expense, but we believe these daughters of the King are worthy. With God’s help, we hope to continue this level of care.

The experience of almost 100 years tells us the women’s prisons take advantage of religious opportunities and pastoral care participating at a much higher rate than the men’s facilities, explaining our previous advocacy for the former level of care. GraceInside is committed to serving the incarcerated women of Virginia and recognize the desperate need for significant chaplaincy for these mothers, sisters, daughters and wives.

Good news:

  • Our Easter Resurrection Campaign will focus on seeking to restore chaplaincy to our women’s prisons.  We have already heard from some of our GraceInside family as word gets out that this is not acceptable and they will work with us to restore hours of service.
  • Many of our GraceInside family partner with some of these chaplaincy positions already and so we are not starting at ground zero.

However, we need your help. Women in prison need your help to experience the transformative love and grace of Jesus Christ. We have countless stories of transformation because of your support. Let’s work together to be sure they don’t stop! If you have questions, please reach out to Lynn via her email at LynnLitchfield@graceinside.org or by calling our central office at 804 358-7650.

GraceInside February 13, 2019