Friday, October 10, 2008


This is an interesting subject at the moment. Lots of that going around, lots of it in the air. My wife and a close friend are taking paralegal classes, I am taking a grueling Boundaries and Ethics class, and there's always something going on at the prison.

The latter seems most precedent for the moment. The prison like all prisons is full of inmates. Convicted Felons. As I said before about my beginning as a Wiccan Chaplain, I didn't think I was suited well for prison work. I idea of inmates complaining about their cable TV being out makes my skin crawl.

But I do think they are entitled to religious rights. Oddly on the inside it seems to be quite the opposite. Just like the rest of us, the inmates face religious discrimination on a regular basis.

However this varies from prison to prison and state to state. My prison is great. I was sought out by the administration and welcomed with open arms. I have only faced relatively minor problems with a few select individuals. The biggest one was Chapel use and it worked out for the best in the long run.

So on a regular basis inmates complain about religious discrimination by custody staff. During one of my services last month the Chapel clerk tapped on the window and motioned for an inmate. I waved him in and he explained that a guard had recalled an inmate. The inmate took a deep breath, exhaled and slumped over for a moment of preparation, shook his head, said his goodbyes and left without commenting.

a few minutes later the same thing happened again. Then again. But the names where not real inmate names, like Gaylord Falker. My congregation commented on a guard we'll call Rubeus. They explained that Rubeus was an extreme evangelical Christan who made their lives a living hell. To include verbal harassment and routinely taking their Pagan books and religious materials without cause. every inmate in his building has had something taken by this guard who is not going to have any devil worshipping in his building.

This has been burning a hole in me. You CANNOT deny ME my first amendment rights and justify it with YOUR faith.

In my welcome letter, I include a statement of purpose. It says " provide and facilitate religious programs and services to the minority faith population on behalf of the facility.

Meaning to the inmates for the prison. So I had another cool idea. I have created a new service to provide to the inmates for the prison. Sacred Text and Materials Protection I call it STAMP.

I researched the regulations pertaining to this issue, yes ALL of them. and came up with an identification system for my congregations religious materials, complete with a tracking number.

A sticker identifying the material as religious, each sticker is numbered and logged in a registry. The reason for tracking is two fold, it's an oversight to prevent inmate tampering and if a guard decides to confiscate them or throw them away, the inmate has supporting documentation of the property.

On a positive note, I feel it necessary to mention that not all guards and staff share this attitude. Many honestly just don't know, understand or could careless as long as you got "chrono" or the documentation to back it up.

Here's a really great book, written by one of my favorite bloggers. It was a gift from a close friend. Thank you both.

*click on the picture for close up.


Nettle said...

I just found this book at my local used book store! I walk by there every day on my way to work, and I often will just stop in and see if there's anything good on the "Occult" shelf. This one was there the other day - I almost didn't pick it up at all because I thought the cover is kind of lurid and that usually isn't a great sign. Then I actually looked at it and realized that it was not at all the fluffy simplistic sort of stuff I've come to expect from shiny new books on "magick.".

It was really a great find and I'm enjoying it so far. And since it's showing up synchronistically in a blog on my reader, I'll pay even more attention to it :) Going to have to start reading Jason Miller's blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I have recently been searching for more answers as to why I worked in law, defense, martial arts, magick and consultation as well as medicine.

This post, seriously got my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

recalling inmates?!?!
Like the religion or not, it is proven (gaduate of CJ from college) that an inmate that practices religion, shows faith, survives on this inside and has lower recidivism!

I send blessings for the trials and ignorance of which those that try to control the unknown, and thus scary.

Anonymous said...

ugh, so angry I just reviewed my comment post.. I was so angry I didn't proof my work.

I apologize now for the terrible (gaduate of CJ)
I meant, I graduated top of my class with a criminal Justice major

WitchDoctorJoe said...

Your absolutely right. Currently CDCR inmates have an 89% return rate.

Patrick's Wiccan congregation has a 97% success rate. Doesn't take a collage graduate to do that math.

Jason Miller, said...

Thanks for the plug man!

Glad that you enjoyed the book.