Prison & Jail Ministry

ABOUT OUR MINISTRY

A collaborative ministry addressing justice issues within prisons, jails, and detention centers.

The work of the Prison and Jail Ministries Initiative centers around inspiration, advocacy, and education, including:

  • Sponsorship of Resolution GA-1723, “On Becoming Immigrant-Welcoming Congregations,” which was adopted as a Sense-of-the-Assembly Resolution at the 2017 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
  • Sponsorship of Resolution GA-1525, “A Call to End Solitary Confinement,” which passed as an Item for Reflection and Research at the 2015 General Assembly.
  • Educational workshops at General Assembly and other regional events.
  • Participation in events such as Ecumenical Advocacy Days and the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition.
  • A Facebook group to help members stay connected and up-to-date on these important issues.

Within this network of over 400 members, we convene a smaller Prison and Jail Ministries Peer Learning & Wellness Group to cultivate peer-to-peer learning, spiritual renewal, well-being and address systemic injustice.


Prison & Detention Advocacy Missional Partners

Much of this work cannot be accomplished without the collaboration and encouragement of our ministry partners: Reconciliation Ministry, Disciples Center for Public Witness, Disciples Justice Action Network, Disciples Home Missions, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Additionally, we’re pleased to work with ministry partners like Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, Oklahoma Family Empowerment Center, and UrbanMission.


Staff

Meet the Prison & Jail Ministries Team

Rev. Héctor J. Hernández Marcial

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Rev. Dean Bucalos

MISSION SPECIALIST, PRISON AND JAIL MINISTRIES AFFINITY GROUP


Videos & Webinars

Watch and Learn

Watch any of our educational webinars to learn more about prison, jail, and detention ministry. These videos are designed to encourage thought and discussion around topics such as criminal justice, mass incarceration, solitary confinement, immigration, and reform.

Learn and Grow with NBA Resources

Second Chance Employment: Making an Impact by Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People

This webinar explores the importance of considering the employment of people who are returning from our prisons and jails and those who are in recovery.

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Webinar: Why Our Corrections System Is So Dysfunctional

Join our experienced panelists for a conversation on why the corrections system has become so dysfunctional and broken.

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Worship for Families of Incarcerated Individuals

These resources were created to offer people of faith an opportunity to worship together and reflect on the experience of immigrants in the Bible and the experience of immigrants living in the United States.

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Liturgy for Working with Incarcerated People  

We invite you to explore immigration through these liturgies and worship resources.

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Liturgies for Immigration and Detention

We invite you to explore immigration through these liturgies and worship resources.

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Liturgy for Reentry Ministries

We invite you to explore immigration through these liturgies and worship resources.

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Webinar: Why Followers of Jesus Should Oppose Capital Punishment

What does the Bible say about capital punishment? Should followers of Jesus Christ, who was executed himself, oppose the use of capital punishment?

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Webinar: Introducing “We Are Witnesses”, an important video series about the U.S. Criminal Justice System

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Webinar: Combating Mass Incarceration through Bail Reform

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Webinar: Beyond the Labels: The Humanization of God’s Children

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Liturgy for Immigration and Detention

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Webinar: The Privatization of Prisons and Prison Industry Divestment

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Webinar: The Prison Abolition Movement

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Webinar

Webinar: The Rising Number of Incarcerated Women

Join us as we discuss the impact of the increasing number of women, particularly women of color, that are spending time behind bars and work to address solutions

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Webinar: Restoration of Voting Rights

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Workshops and Resources from 2019 General Assembly

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Webinar: Immigration Detention in the United States

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Webinar: On Becoming Immigrant-Welcoming Congregations: Resolution GA-1723

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NBA Impact Report

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Webinar: Restorative Justice, Part 1

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Webinar: How to Start a Prison Congregation

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Webinar: Lock Up Your Neighbors? How the United States Deals with Immigration

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Workshops and Resources from 2017 General Assembly

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Webinar: Welcoming Those with Incarcerated Family Members

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NBA Prison and Jail Ministries Peer Group, 2016-18

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Webinar: Mental Health, the Criminal Justice System, and the Church

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Webinar: Becoming a Welcoming Church: Safe Sanctuary Protocols

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Webinar: Juvenile Justice and Restorative Justice

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Webinar: A Call to End Solitary Confinement

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Webinar: Mass Incarceration and Returning Citizens

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Prison & Jail Advocacy Stories and News

The Many Hurdles of Employment After Incarceration

Upcoming webinar guest Savvy Shabazz shares his experience with the prison system in Kentucky and his struggles of trying to find employment after returning home.

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“Under His Eye”: The Pandemic, Hulu, and The Death Penalty

Sometimes, dystopian movies have eerie resemblances, not just to what the world could be, but what it actually is writes Tialisha Lumpkin.

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Exploring the Prison Abolition Movement

I have been intrigued for a while by the prison abolition movement. Wikipedia defines the movement as “a network of groups and activists that seek to reduce or eliminate prisons and the prison system, and replace them with systems of rehabilitation that do not place a focus on punishment and government institutionalization.”

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Our Broken Immigration System Has Been Weaponized, Here’s What We Can Do

The current White House administration has made it a priority to come up with new anti-immigration rhetoric and policies at every turn. In response, churches across the country are stepping up in support of immigrants, learn more about what you can do below.

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The Marshall Project: “We Are Witnesses”

I invite you to watch a powerful new film series, created and produced by The Marshall Project. “We Are Witnesses” gives voice to those whose lives are enmeshed in the criminal justice system and provides a rare 360-degree portrait of crime and punishment in America today.

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An Active Summer for InsideOut Art

An active summer of art exhibits and sacred conversations around incarceration, creativity, and healing.

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NBA + OGMP On the Road: Connecting Communities of Compassion and Care

With stops in Texas, Ohio, and California, we traveled with Rev. Terri Hord Owens for a variety of partner visits, special events, and conversations.

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Being with Jonathan

Rev. Nora Jacob gets a glimpse into life at a federal detention center.

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My First General Assembly

NBA Prison and Jail Ministries Guest Blogger Ria M. Riesner shares her reflections after attending the 2017 General Assembly with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

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Gospel of Community

The more I walk and experience what I call a Gospel of community, the more I have faced and struggled with principalities and powers of this world that devour and destroy the most vulnerable around us.

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Upstream, Downstream

It is the ongoing, ever-present, sometimes exhausting work that seeks both to save and rescue those being hurt and harmed and to dismantle the systems that are causing such pain and brokenness.

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Social Entrepreneurs of Faith: Championing the Cause

Social entrepreneurs adopt a mission to create and sustain social value. I have come across some amazing ideas that incredibly innovative people have launched into reality.

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Prison Ministry and Mentoring: Meeting at the Gate

What happens when a convict has paid his price to society? Many leave prison only to enter a revolving door. I’ve volunteered in prison ministry for 18 years. Several years ago, we celebrated when one of the inmates was about to be released. A few months later, he was back behind bars. What happened?

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Launching the Ministry…InsideOut

Creativity and protest, celebration and publicity—all of these, rolled into what we’re calling the InsideOut Art Show, will be unveiled October 7-8, 2016, in our fresh expression of ministry and mission in South Pomona, California.

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The Dark Place of the Soul

Having served in a ministry capacity in a wide variety of environments, one of the most difficult places was prison as a prison chaplain.

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Empowered for Growth and Hope

Mission Behind Bars and Beyond has been blessed to have received a grant from the NBA Incubate Initiative to work with a development coach.

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Black Lives Matter

What does it mean to bring a beautiful African-American boy into the world today?

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Immigration Detention: “Have We Not Learned the Lessons?”

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NBA Gathers Prison & Jail Ministry Workers for a Two-Year Peer Group Experience

In April, eight prison and jail ministry practitioners gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the “Reaching Individuals Behind and Beyond the Bars” conference and to kick off the first NBA Prison and Jail Ministries Peer Group

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Mental Health and Incarceration

Many people who end up incarcerated suffer from co-occurring disorders, “the coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder.” Many are woefully ill-equipped to manage a healthy, productive lifestyle once they are released from places of incarceration. Who steps forward to provide assistance and guidance?

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On the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act

On March 29, faith leaders, students, and advocates gathered in Lexington to urge Kentucky lawmakers to bring an important criminal justice reform bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Rev. Dean Bucalos shared these remarks.

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Welcoming Wisely

In many ways, those who have committed sex offenses are the lepers of our time. Living, but not living fully, in society. While many crimes are heinous, most all of those labeled as sex offenders return to our communities. The question is, “Where do they go?”

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Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline

We have named it “the school-to-prison pipeline.” It’s emerged over the years. What we have discovered is that the pathway to prison is paved early on in one’s life, and that a disproportionate number of young people of color are subtly directed along this route.

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This past year has brought attention to many important social justice issues, particularly as they relate to prison and jail ministry. As we begin the new year, I thought I would highlight some of our accomplishments in 2015 to remind us of the important work we are about.

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Loving Neighbors As Ourselves

The transition a person makes from prison or jail back into society again is almost always complex in its challenges—not only for those who themselves were incarcerated, but also for their families, friends, and communities.

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I See You

The first time I visited a prison, I was afraid. I was afraid because I thought there were people there who could hurt me. People who had committed crimes, and people who guarded them—who had guns and watched my every move. I was afraid when they asked me to go through security checkpoints where they looked inside my mouth, under my hair, at the bottoms of my feet...my body felt controlled, watched.

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Penpal Ministry: Sending the Light of Hope

For people who are incarcerated, receiving mail is a cherished gift. Letters become connecting points to the outside world. A reminder that they haven’t been forgotten. A penpal ministry can be a low-budget, high-impact way to share faith and hope with those who are incarcerated.

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A Call to End Solitary Confinement

The effects of solitary confinement are being exposed as detrimental and damaging to the mental health of those so confined.

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“When was it that we saw you…”

Many people have never set foot in a prison. In one way, that’s a good thing! However, once you have visited someone behind the bars, you realize how demoralizing and dehumanizing that experience can be. That loud “clank” speaks volumes. Reminding those who find themselves imprisoned that they have not been forgotten is a gift that is priceless. The blessings flow both ways.

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A New Approach to an Old Problem

We have heard the statistics about mass incarceration in our country. We have the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

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Get Involved with NBA Prison & Jail Advocacy

To learn more and get involved, please contact Rev. Dean Bucalos, Mission Specialist for NBA Prison & Jail Ministries, at prisonministries@nbacares.org. We look forward to hearing from you!