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Chaplains - Confessions of a Prison Chaplain

Waterside Press are giving away a copy of Confessions of a Prison Chaplain by Mary Brown and Opening the Doors: A Prison Chaplain’s Life on the Inside by Paul Gill in a prize worth over £30. Here, Bryan Gibson writes about the titles which follow the authors' work…

A stereotype image of the prison chaplain is perhaps of a ‘meddling do-gooder’ who can embarrass hardened inmates by talking to them as if they are children. Someone ‘born yesterday’ who is distant, easy to con, wears a ‘dog-collar’ or beads, is not from the establishment concerned, and who pops up now and again with a kindly smile on his face (unlike the guards).

But modern chaplains are not like that – and they can be a real ‘safety valve’ and outside link. Nowadays they are likely to be from one of a number of faiths (or even none), part of a team – including women – dedicated to a non-judgmental approach. They are a central component in diffusing tensions, reducing re-offending and helping offenders to change (or rescue) heart, mind and even life. If this sounds pompous it’s the nature of the work!