What is the cost of incarcerating people?

  • Beyond the spiritual and emotional cost, putting people behind bars is extremely financially burdensome to the taxpayer. “The state prison population has grown 700% nationwide since the 1970s. The average per-inmate cost was $31,286 in Fiscal Year 2010. The 40 states surveyed by this study spent $39 billion on maintaining their prisons in 2010. That is $5.4 billion more than their total reported corrections budgets for that year.” https://www.vera.org/publications/price-of-prisons-what-incarceration-costs-taxpayers

What is the difference between a jail and a prison? Are you in both? What about federal prisons?

  • GraceInside serves the state prisons in Virginia. Prisons are run by Virginia’s Department of Corrections and is a state organization. Jails are run by the city or county that funds them. Those arrested are taken to jail to await court proceedings. Once sentenced, those with a felony conviction (3 misdemeanors can equal a felony) may be sent to prison to serve the imposed time. Those with misdemeanors and less than a year to serve (sometimes less than two) may do so at the local jail.
  • Federal institutions are a separate category of prisons covering crimes that have been defined by federal law as criminal. Examples include kidnapping, mail fraud, child pornography, bank robbery, etc. Most federal crimes can be found under Title 18 of the United States Code. GraceInside serves Virginia’s state prisons only at this time.

How many chaplains and inmates are there in Virginia?

  • GraceInside provides 32 Christian chaplains to 30,000 adults in Virginia’s prisons, 12 are currently employed full-time.  Some 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. Our full-time chaplaincy requirements are an M.Div degree from an ATS accredited seminary, ordination, endorsement and clinical/pastoral experience.

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.

Are there other ministries like GraceInside in other states?

  • To our knowledge, we are unique in the United States and unique to Virginia. Most other states utilize tax-payer money to support chaplaincy. When tax payer monies are used, the chaplains cannot be sectarian but will be from across all faith groups. Standards vary on what is required.

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. http://www.vera.org/files/price-of-prisons-virginia-fact-sheet.pdf
  •  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.
  • The number of females sentenced to more than 1 year in state or federal prison increased by 500 from 2015 to 2016. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6187

Unless otherwise noted, statistics on incarceration are from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p11.pdf

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