Religion and prison: higher things

For some inmates, faith offers an escape from their everyday environment, and a perspective beyond the prison walls

International standards acknowledge prisoners’ rights to religious belief, and guarantee their right to practice their faith. All inmates should in theory be allowed to engage in spiritual activity. The International Prison Chaplains Association (IPCA) seeks to gather and support chaplains and promote UN recommendations. As an ecumenical organisation, it brings together chaplains from different denominations and countries.

David Buick has been a Protestant prison chaplain for 17 years. He has served as regional chaplain for North-Western France since 2011, and as president of IPCA since June 2020. Prison Insider asked him three questions.

In countries in which religious practice is marginalised, pastoral care may be barely tolerated by the authorities.

Chaplains often have access to every area of a prison, including the cells, where they can talk to prisoners unaccompanied.

The chaplaincy model offers interesting possibilities in this respect, well beyond prison walls.