On this site:
Check out more than 60
local and national

Resources, Ministries and Programs

in these critical fields, complete with descriptions and contact information:
Prison Ministries
Re-entry Programs
Prevention Ministries
Criminal Justice Reform
Death Penalty Reform
Victims & Families

Contacts and Officials

About the Task Force
Mission and Goals


Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them …Hebrews 13:3























Crime Prevention:
Camps for Smallest Victims of Crime

Episcopal dioceses across the nation are reaching out to the smallest victims of crime by offering summer camps to children of prisoners as well as at risk children and those with a parent deployed in the military.

Those who have experienced this ministry see it as a crime prevention program that works by offering them a safe place and glimpses of a life with unconditional love and hope..

This Episcopal News Service story covers camps in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Nevada and Montana. For information about starting a camp, contact the Rev. Jackie Means, Missioner for Prison Ministries at 1-800-334-7626, jmeans@episcopalchurch.org|































'Messiah' Helped prisoners, poor and sick

Handel composed his great oratorio, “Messiah,” specifically for a charity organization for prisoners, a hospital and a charitable infirmary. The first performance in Dublin, Ireland, was on April 13, 1742. The money from the performance, news reports said, freed 142 indebted prisoners.

Another “Messiah” was sung for the 26th straight year Nov. 25, 2012, in a small brick church built for the colonists just 21 years after that performance. It too was a benefit for the poor through the Salvation Army. More than 200 singers showed up for the event at St. James’ Parish in Lothian, MD.

A March 3 Lenten “Messiah” Sing-Along is under consideration.













Convention Okays Aid to Camps
For Children of Prisoners

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July, adopted the resolution calling for $50,000 a year for three years for new and struggling camps for chldren of the incarcerated.  The task force will continue to press for the funding through Executive Council.

The Convention also voted for recognition and celebration of the 35th anniversary of the  Rev. Jackie Means, the first woman officially ordained in Indianapolis where the convention was held.  She is co-founder of Episcopal camps for children of the incarcerated.    

Val Hymes and Means attended the convention, representing social and economic justice ministries. Means is Episcopal missioner for prison ministries. The resolution language follows:

Title:   Camps for Children of the Incarcerated
Topic:   Prison Ministry
Sponsor: Prison Ministry Task Force
House of Initial Action:   House of Bishops
Proposer:   The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton

Resolved , the House of Deputies concurring, That the 77 th General Convention reaffirm its commitment to establish and support summer camps for children who have parents in prison or in the criminal justice system; and be it further

Resolved , That the Program Officer of Social and Economic Justice encourage and support dioceses with such camps to facilitate networking among each other; and be it further

Resolved, That the Program Officer of Social and Economic Justice report to the 78th General Convention on his/her progress; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention request that the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance consider a budget allocation of $150,000 over the next triennium for the implementation of this resolution.

Prison-Based 'Gerrymandering'
Struck Down by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in June upheld Maryland’s law ending prison-based “gerrymandering,” whereby the federal Census has counted mainly minority prisoner populations as residents of the rural counties that house these inmates instead of using their home addresses.

The Court said, “These distortional effects stem from the fact that while the majority of the state’s prisoners come from African-American areas, the state’s prisons are located primarily in the majority white First and Sixth Districts. As a result, residents of districts with prisons are systematically ‘overrepresented’ compared to other districts.” The First District included the Eastern Shore, while the Sixth District covers Western Maryland.

Peter Wagner of The Prison Policy Initiative: “The practice of prison-based gerrymandering particularly harms urban communities and communities of color that disproportionately contain the home residences of incarcerated persons. Other states have since passed similar laws, but the Maryland law was the only one to go to the Supreme Court.”

The effect of this decision will be a reallocation of funds from the rural districts to Baltimore City and the Washington suburbs, where most prisoners come from.


Death Penalty Repeal
Survives First Challenge

The first challenge to the MD death penalty repeal bill failed March 1 with a vote of 19 to 27. The Senate resumed debate late March 4. Twenty-four senators are needed to pass the legislation that would replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.


Muzzled Lifers
Go to Court

A prisoner does not shed such basic First Amendment rights at the prison gate. -- Supreme Court

Four lifers, part of a nonprofit think tank incarcerated at the Jessup Correctional Institution, were scheduled to go to court via video conferencing Aug. 14 to challenge a prison policy that muzzled them from media interviews and photographs after they won a 2011 award from the Maryland Daily Record.

The newspaper honored the six-member Extra Legalese Group as an Innovator of the Year for developing a Peace Initiative to reduce gang violence. Although the men obviously could not attend the award ceremony, the newspaper planned to include them in a video presentation and a special edition of the newspaper
The Department of Corrections refused to allow four of them to be interviewed or photographed, stating that the victims’ families object and that it is department policy. A search for such a codified policy has been unsuccessful and a memorandum from the Maryland Attorney General's Office said there is no such regulation.

The inmates filed a grievance with the Inmate Grievance Office. It was denied. The four appealed to Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. A hearing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. in Judge Philip Caroom’s courtroom.


The Supreme Court Splits Oddly
On DNA Collection During Arrest

Alito: “Most important criminal procedure case in decades.”

The Supreme Court justices, arguing Feb. 26 whether or not the collection of DNA during an arrest is an unreasonable search considering that a suspect is presumed innocent, split in unusual camps. The state of Maryland had discovered a rape suspect when he was arrested for assault. The Court of Appeals had struck down the case as a violation of the Fourth Amendment dealing with search and seizure. The state disagrees.

According to The Washington Post, "Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan were the most critical of Maryland's law; [Samuel] Alito and Stephen Breyer seemed most supportive."


Prison Ministry Sunday
Parishes are urged to celebrate Prison Ministry Sundays to raise public awareness of Jesus' request that we minister to "the least of these." Some churches set aside a Sunday during Epiphany. Others plan a Lenten Sunday. Read more.

For your bulletins:

Printer-friendly versions of
Prayers of the People for Prison Ministry Sundays, and Ministry Contact Information.


About this site:
There are more than 2 million men and women in federal, state and local prisons and jails, according to figures released by the Department of Justice. An estimated 2 million children in the United States have at least one parent who is, or has been, in jail.

There are many ways to help minister to these children of God: inside and outside prison walls; before and after imprisonment. The pages on this site describe some of those ministries and programs in the Diocese and elsewhere and provide contact

information. Check the links on the top left corner of the page.

Hospital for ‘Negro Insane’ Could Become 'Village
of Health, Healing and Hope’

By Val Hymes

Four decades ago across the nation, states began closing their mental hospitals, sending patients to community programs and leaving behind large, tree-shaded campuses with empty brick buildings.

Some became college annexes; some became hospital expansions. But others have stood empty, their roofs caving in, broken windows gaping and historians saddened by the deterioration.

Crownsville State Hospital, originally built for the “Negro Insane” in Maryland in 1910 is one of them. Sitting on 500+ acres are 66 buildings – some of them considered by a local historic trust worth permanent protection.

The state wants a developer to purchase it for real estate tax revenue; the community fears development, traffic congestion and destruction of the rural landscape. But a group of nonprofits have a vision for a “Village of Health, Healing and Hope” – a one-stop center for community, veterans and reentry services, a sports complex, hiking and biking trails and a museum to tell the story of the agrarian community and the “hospital for the negro insane.”

They are led by attorney Owen M. Taylor of Annapolis, who dedicates his legal skills to a reentry ministry for ex-offenders and to First Amendment rights for Christian organizations. Four years ago, he read a newspaper story saying the state wanted to unload the property that had already been turned down by every Maryland state agency. It opened the door to bids from developers and organizations.

When Taylor drove through the property he was struck by a vision of what it could be. He encouraged nonprofit organizations, social services, and faith-based, community and veterans’ groups to join the board of the newly formed Community Services Center at Crownsville, Inc. (CSCC) He challenged them to join him to persuade the state to turn over the property to them, not a developer.

One of those organizations supporting the concept is the Prison Ministry Task Force of the Diocese of Maryland, a Jubilee Ministry advocating for criminal justice reform and reentry programs and sponsor of a camp for children of prisoners, Camp Amazing Grace.
The hospital grounds already house a countywide Food Bank and three addictions programs: Second Genesis, Hope House and Chrysalis House. There are also two alternative schools for children. A local VFW was told it could have a building for a veterans meeting and counseling center, but it has not heard anything more except that the state wants to create a master plan.

The CSCC, Inc., nonprofit group foresees adding services like vocational education and GED classes, job training, legal services, a veterans’ home and clinic, and a mental health clinic and family services. It has gained interest from an addictions hospital, a community college, an academy for inner city children, public defenders and probation officers. It also has hopes for temporary housing for the homeless, a family assistance center, an ex-offender post-release center and a senior services center.

Funding will come from private funds, grants and Veteran Administration contributions with users paying for improvements, Taylor said.

“I think the effort to use that campus efficiently for community services makes a lot of sense,” said Frank Sullivan, executive director of the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency, Inc., which has been seeking space there for three years.

The 27 community associations surrounding the property are adamantly opposed to new housing construction and road congestion and support the CSCC plan. The group feels this effort presents exceptional possibilities for state and local governments to partner with private enterprise, which could be a model for the nation.

"The destiny and future of this precious and honorable property is in our grasp if we work together,” says Taylor, “It can mean the dynamic resurgence of services to the needy and the hurting."

The state has not responded except to say -- eight years after abandoning the stately buildings -- that it has not yet made a decision and needs time to develop that master plan.

Val Hymes is coordinator/director of the Prison Ministry Task Force and editor of http://PrisMinNet.org



Are There ‘Systematic Racial Disparities’
In Maryland's Criminal Justice System ?

The ACLU and the NAACP have asked the Commission on Civil Rights "to take another look at the systematic racial disparities in [Maryland’s] criminal justice system." In an editorial in the Baltimore Sun June 18, a disparity in the number of minorities in prisons is way above the number of minorities represented in the population.

"At every step along the way, minorities are treated more harshly, facing greater presumption of guilt, have fewer resources to defend themselves and suffer more severe penalties." And it's true across the nation at every level of the system from arrests to imprisonment, according to several studies.

In Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of ColorBlindness," the Ohio State University law professor says the huge number of minority over Caucasian prisoners is evidence of an extension of the Jim Crow system of discrimination for most of this century, especially when minorities do not commit significantly more crimes.




Prison Ministry Sunday
Parishes are urged to celebrate Prison Ministry Sundays to raise public awareness of Jesus' request that we minister to "the least of these." Some churches set aside a Sunday during Epiphany. Others plan a Lenten Sunday. Read more.

For your bulletins:

Printer-friendly versions of
Prayers of the People for Prison Ministry Sundays, and Ministry Contact Information.

A pilgrimage to the once "bloodiest prison in America" was a national benchmark for prison ministry in the church. Read more and see photos.


Feature story