with the DANE COUNTY Sheriff's Department
Sheriff's department~Our partner in ministry
Over the course of a year, our chaplains join hundreds, if not thousands of men and women in their pain and sorrow. Relying on the strength of their faith traditions, chaplains help men and women identify God’s presence in their lives and accompany them on the highly personal and deeply spiritual process of experiencing healing, hope, strength, and courage for themselves and their futures.
A chaplain’s ability to serve in this role is dependent upon our partnership with the Dane County Sheriff’s Department. In addition to providing us office accommodations and technical support, the Sheriff’s Department has also granted us a level of security higher than that afforded most civilians. This unique level of security access allows us to connect in a timely way with the men and women whom we serve as well as provide necessary spaces for private conversations.
"Without their help there would be no spiritual care programming in the jail."
supporting our work
The Sheriff’s Department has been supportive of our efforts to increase the quantity and quality of the spiritual care programs offered through the Chaplain’s Office. They have worked with us to offer a Friday Muslim Prayer Service, add two weekly Bible studies, and double the number of tutors serving in the jail, all of whom have been trained in compassionate communication and equipped to teach adult learners.
The Sheriff’s department also supports our efforts to increase the number of faith leaders who are approved for clergy visits. Our clergy list has grown to include faith leaders representing numerous Christian denominations as well as Native American, Islamic, Jewish, and Buddhist faith traditions, to name a few.
The Chaplain’s Office is responsible for numerous volunteer-staffed programs, including worship and prayer services, bible studies, and support groups. All of our volunteers are vetted, approved and trained by the Sheriff’s department and the logistics of our volunteer programs, the when and where and who can attend, are coordinated by the Sheriff’s department.
In addition to providing one-on-one spiritual care, we distribute a variety supplies which help people make sense of and find reason in their incarceration, as well as simply feel more human. Included among these supplies are holy texts like Bibles and Qurans, journals, stationary, books, socks, underwear, and reading glasses. Due to the great demand for these resources, we rely on support from the deputies, who help us distribute these supplies throughout the jail.
Finally, the deputies are the life-line between the incarcerated and the chaplain’s Office, making it possible for us to do our jobs in a way which honors our call. Each day deputies take time out of their already demanding schedules to escort our volunteers and program participants around the jail, all the while ensuring the safety and security of everyone who participates in our programs. Without their help there would be no spiritual care programming in the jail.
"The simple act of a phone call by the deputy as well as the deputy’s compassion which drives the call, is often enough to help someone find momentary peace."
supporting the people in their care
And finally, and maybe most importantly, we rely on the deputies to let us know who is needing a conversation and prayer with the chaplain. With more than 800 men and women incarcerated in the jail each day, there is no way for us touch base with everyone in a timely way. Because our staff is so small and the jail so large, often weeks if not months pass between chaplain visits to a pod or cell block. During these gaps deputies frequently call us to say, “So and so would really appreciate a conversation with you. When can I let him know you’ll be stopping by?” The simple act of a phone call by the deputy as well as the deputy’s compassion which drives the call, is often enough to help someone find momentary peace. We are grateful for this support, as it helps us prioritize our time, ensuring that we are spending time with the people who are most in need of a conversation and a prayer.