From Michael G. Maness’ Preface:
“No staff Chaplains in Texas prisons?”—that shocked and hurt! In 2011 the Texas Department of Criminal Justice cut the entire Chaplaincy service.
In a nutshell: a small group lit a fire that saved it….
Once that nut was completely de-shelled and one saw that analysis was absent in 2011, the pith of cutting Chaplains, adding coordinators and increasing sub-contracting negated any true cost savings. Indeed, it was a simple passing of the cost and the logistics to the unit level. In a host of ways, cutting Chaplains made the facilitation of religion and care of Volunteers more expensive, much less efficient and much less effective….
We fought that nut, hard, for cutting staff Chaplains was against the stated law of HB 1—illegal?—once one looked at the data, for the law required the most efficient and effective use of Texas’ money, required the most bang for one’s buck. The cut was thoroughly thoughtless.
Worst—care for Volunteers would be colder, much colder!...
But the greatest loss—please see this throughout—is all about the value of religion and value of Volunteers. Cutting Chaplains devalued both….
Several of us came together and lit a firestorm that spread quickly and saved TDCJ Chaplaincy. If it happens again, it will happen in the same way, by surprise, without any data consumption (much less analysis), without any consult with the stakeholders—Chaplains, Volunteers, prisoner families, prisoners—and without giving any person a real chance to defend.
Volunteers . . . thank God for you and your networks!
In many ways, this endeavor becomes another testimony of how precious Chaplaincy was, is and remains to be—truly valuable to Texans.
From Frank Graham’s Foreword
President of Chapel of Hope:
How We Saved Texas Prison Chaplaincy is an amazing story of how one TDCJ chaplain and a very few TDCJ chaplaincy volunteers passionately initiated a fight to save the Texas prison chaplaincy department from being defunded by the Texas Legislature in 2011. If the Texas budget (HB 1 at the start) had been approved without funding for chaplaincy, there would have been no chaplaincy today….
God, through the Holy Spirit, inspired and helped a few of us to rally an amazing lobbying effort that succeeded and got the operational costs of TDCJ chaplaincy fully restored at the same level as the previous biennium.
It was a miracle. So few did so much in so little time!...
From Jerry Madden’s Foreword
Former Chairman of the Texas House
Committee on Corrections:
This important book chronicles an awakening of sorts and shows a critical part of how the legislature responds to the public.
We need chaplains….
As Maness so forcefully presents, religion is truly the greatest source for change in human history, and our staff chaplains facilitate that. Likewise, we came to see there would be little true cost savings, in that some staffer would have to take care religion in prison—it’s a right after all—and manage the good volunteers.
I like what Maness said, too, in that volunteers should not have to do it all. They are the greatest asset we have, next to the fine staff that works so hard to fulfill the auspicious mission of TDCJ….
Our chaplains were already there doing what we needed, changing the prisoners’ way of thinking….
John Whitmire and I knew most of these programs were critical to keeping Texas’ prisons from expanding. We had a lot of allies in the Legislature. Most legislators knew how important these efforts were to keep us from spending billions more dollars on prison expansion. Yet, expansion would take place, we wholeheartedly believed, if these budget cuts were allowed.
So we went to work to save chaplains and save all the treatment programs that we could. A lot of work by a lot of people resulted in almost all of the monies originally cut being restored. Programs were saved. The results got national acclaim….
It was a monumental effort….
If prisoners will sincerely embrace faith, they will change. They will even more sincerely tackle the other programs, too. And, with respect to bang for one’s buck, there is hardly a more cost-effective program than chaplaincy.
From Carol Vance’s Foreword
Former Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice:
Our Texas prison chaplains are an essential ingredient to reducing crime and recidivism in this state….
Maness explains prison chaplaincy’s many faces well. In addition to making the volunteer programs possible, chaplains deal with a host of other inmate issues, like telling an inmate his mother died, comfort during serious illnesses, attempted suicides, manic depression, loneliness, illness, and just plain old prison itself being in close quarters with not the nicest people in the world. Our prison chaplains face many people and many problems. Usually there is only one chaplain in a prison of about 1,300 people. A church that large would have ten to fifteen people on staff by comparison. Yes, the chaplain is expected to be preacher, counselor, hand holder, administrative staff, clerk or whatever. Most chaplains in most prisons are solo and overloaded.
But now imagine there was no chaplain there to handle all that!
If we get Smart on Crime we will increase faith-based programs, volunteers and the chaplaincy corps. Maness’ book should get us to thinking more about crime and transformation. About law and lawlessness. About doing the same old thing and expecting a different result. About the true value of faith. Last but not least about the joy of seeing just one man turn from crime….
Take a ride through Mike Maness’ book and learn firsthand about reducing crime, rehabilitating lives, making our streets safer, and bringing hope to the least, the last and the lost just like Jesus commanded.
The chaplain of the prison brings hope and light in what can be a dark and stressful place, all the more reason we need them.
From Dr. Keith Bellamy’s Foreword
Minister, Woodville Church of Christ:
In 2011 from around January to March, I was informed that the Texas legislature had not included the TDCJ Chaplaincy in the state budget. It seemed like all was lost. A few years before that, TDCJ had curtailed the services of about sixty Chaplains….
So, I was shocked to learn that the TDCJ would no longer have Chaplains. Some of my friends like Buck Griffith of New Life Behavior Ministries and others contacted our respective legislators and expressed our concerns of the possibility of the Chaplaincy being done away with.
From what I have seen over a period of many years, the state prison Chaplain is the only one who can truly pay for his salary. If the Chaplain can keep four inmates from coming back to prison through a faith-based program in one year, that Chaplain has earned his salary.
There are probably one hundred thousand mothers and many fathers who are affected by the Chaplaincy in their efforts to reach out to their loved one who is incarcerated. This number may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Michael Maness has been my friend since November of 1999. He has always tried to have the offenders’ best interest at heart. Without Dr. Maness’ efforts it is possible that the Chaplaincy department would not exist.
Thank you Mike for all you have done for the mothers, fathers and offenders.
See www.PreciousHeart.net/Saved for much more ...