Jailhouse Chaplains

This episode of ‘Humankind on Public Radio’ is part of a special series, ‘The Spiritual Care Podcast’. For more episodes exploring the role of spiritual caregivers helping those in need, look for ‘The Spiritual Care Podcast’ on your preferred podcast platform.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. Federal and state prisons and county jails hold around two million prisoners. Another five or so million people are on probation or parole. Some in this diverse population are dangerous and apparently don’t seek rehabilitation to a more productive life. For many others, though, incarceration is a forced opportunity for self-examination and positive change – a process that can be supported and stimulated by spiritual care providers. In this segment, we explore in-depth the experiences of two chaplains: Paul Shoaf-Kozak, a Christian social justice advocate who oversees the chaplaincy department at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton, Massachusetts, northeast of Boston; and Genko Kathy Blackman, a Buddhist teacher who has long visited jails around the Seattle area. We also hear from two prisoners about their faith journeys while behind bars.