The people We Serve

People who are incarcerated

We serve men and women, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, neighbors and friends. When the Jail Ministry began, approximately 100 people were incarcerated each day. Today that number has increased eight-fold.


  • 1970 approximately 100 people were incarcerated each day (14% were female); ¹
  • 1988 approximately 408 people were incarcerated each day (16% were female); ²
  • 2004 approximately 1059 people were incarcerated each day (20% were female). ³
  • Additionally, in 2004 more than 800 people were placed on suicide watch and 200 had been diagnosed with mental illness.


  • 2006 approximately 1092 people were incarcerated each day (19.7% were female); ¹
  • 2010 approximately 767 people were incarcerated each day (20% were female); ²
  • 2015 approximately 834 people are incarcerated each day (16% are female). ³

More than half of the men and women incarcerated in the Dane County Jail struggle with substance abuse. Alcohol is the most abused substance, though heroin and cocaine are also widely used. Many people have co-occurring addictions.

The majority of people are arrested for charges related to substance abuse, including: operating while intoxicated, possession of an illegal substance, disorderly conduct, domestic abuse, fraud, and theft.


Chaplains offer support and encouragement during the incarceration of their loved one. Chaplains provide cards, stamps and children's books to incarcerated men and women to help them stay connected to their children and other loved ones. Chaplains may attend court hearings or trials and offer support.

Deputies and Jail Staff

Deputies in the jail take care of daily needs of incarcerated men and women. Additional jail staff handle the many operations that keep things working. During difficult circumstances in the jail, for example an attempted suicide, chaplains are available to counsel and pray with jail staff. They are also available to talk and pray about personal issues that people are facing outside the jail, such as death of a loved one, divorce, or spiritual crisis.

The Community

Chaplains work with community volunteers to run New Beginnings groups that prepare people for re-entry. They work with community chaplains to provide linkages to congregations and community programs. They speak and preach in Madison area congregations, civic groups, and community service agencies.