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Religious Services FAQ
May I send a book to an inmate?
Books (sacred or not) must be sent in accordance with the Department of Corrections Mail Rule OAR 291-131. Simply, books must come directly from the publisher or an authorized distributor.

 
Can an inmate get married while incarcerated?
The Oregon Department of Corrections permits inmates to be married or have a domestic partnership ceremony within its correctional facilities. Inmates may request information about the ceremony from the chaplain at their facility (Religious Services at Facilities).  The ceremonies take place twice a year, on the fourth Mondays of April and October. Officiators and witnesses cannot be Oregon Department of Corrections’ chaplains or staff.

All guests must be approved for privileged visiting. No food, cameras or special clothing may be brought into the facility for the ceremony.

For further information about being married within DOC institutions refer to the Department of Corrections Rule on Marriages (Inmate) OAR 291-133

 
Can an inmate enter into a domestic partnership?
Domestic partnerships may be entered into at any time by requesting the paperwork from the county clerk in the county in which either of the partners reside.  The completed paperwork must be notarized by both parties before it is submitted.  The Oregon Department of Corrections permits inmates to have a domestic partnership ceremony within its correctional facilities, even though it is not required to complete the domestic partnership process. Inmates may request information about the ceremony from the chaplain at their facility (Religious Services at Facilities).  The ceremonies take place twice a year, on the fourth Mondays of April and October. Officiators cannot be Oregon Department of Corrections’ chaplains or staff.

All guests must be approved for privileged visiting. No food, cameras or special clothing may be brought into the facility for the ceremony.

For further information about being married or having a domestic partnership ceremony within DOC institutions refer to the Department of Corrections Rule on Marriages (Inmate) OAR 291-133

 
Can my spouse or domestic partner get his/her wedding ring?
Wedding bands are authorized through the chaplain's office. The ring should be mailed directly to the chaplain along with a copy of the marriage certificate or domestic partnership paperwork. Please be sure to include the name and SID of the inmate inside of the package. Rings must be plain (no stones, special cuts or engravings). If the ring meets department standards, the chaplain will authorize the ring to the inmate. A record of receipt will be forwarded to the inmate's property list.

 
What do I need to do to volunteer?
To volunteer, you need to fill out a volunteer application, pass a background check, and go through training. Also, we look at our need for the specific service you provide.  For more information see the volunteer webpage.

 
What are religious diets?
The Oregon Department of Corrections accommodates an inmate's need for a mandated religious diet in two ways:
  1. Meat Alternative Tray, a meat/meat product-free meal is always available.
  2. Kosher Diet, a diet prepared and served in accordance with the religious dietary requirements of Kashruth.
To request a kosher diet, the inmate needs to speak to the chaplain at his or her home facility.

 
How does an inmate get religious property?
Inmates may request religious literature/materials from their institutional chaplain. Holy books, religious literature and religious studies for several faiths have been donated to the facility and are available through the chaplain's office for checkout or ownership.  Items that are not available may be purchased directly from the publisher in accordance with the Department of Corrections Mail Rule OAR 291-131.

Most personal inmate religious items such as religious pendants, clothing, and other worship aids, are available through each institution's canteen. Some items are available by ordering them directly from the distributor with the help of the chaplain.  For a list of authorized religious property for both general population and special housing (DSU, IMU, SMU, etc) housed inmates please see the ODOC policy 90.2.4.
 
Authorized Religious Property Policy 90.2.4
 
Family or community members are not allowed to send religious books or property to an inmate. 

 
What does RS offer inmates returning to the community?
The Oregon Department of Corrections’ Religious Services Unit offers a strong, supportive, and ever-growing re-entry services program called Home for Good in Oregon (HGO). HGO is a statewide network of community and faith-based individuals and organizations committed to “building strong communities for the successful reintegration of offenders.” HGO provides releasing offenders with opportunities to develop a pro-social support system for their release as well as a strong set of pro-social attitudes, beliefs, and values.
 
HGO’s mission statement is to “Utilize strategic partnerships between state, faith and community based organizations to build a seamless system of support, guidance, training and resources that promotes the successful restoration of people from prison back to their families and communities.” To this end, HGO has a large network of services available: regional/community chaplains; community coordinators; re-entry liaisons; and mentors all of which provide pre-release and post-release transitioning support in the form spiritual-based transition classes, counseling, and help to link with community and faith-based community resources. All of the re-entry work is conducted in conjunction with an inmate’s official release plan.
 
Should an inmate be interested in receiving more information or actual re-entry services from HGO, the inmate should contact his or her institutional chaplain to obtain an HGO Application. He or she should complete the HGO application and return it back to the Religious Services central administration building addressed to HGO.
 
HGO Program Page
 
 

 
What does Religious Services offer victims and their families?
The Victim Services Program in the Department of Corrections is a sub-unit of Religious Services.  The goal of Victim Services is to ensure crime victims have access to the Department and to respond to victim/survivors' needs.
 
There are two major programs offered by Victim Services: 
 
  • The first is VINE, which stands for “Victim Information and Notification Everyday.”  Crime victims can call the VINE service or visit the public website for an offender’s current custody status and, if they choose, register their phone number or email address to be notified of any change in status.  VINE tracks and provides information on offenders as they move through the entire system, including post prison supervision, parole and probation status.  VINE is free and easy to use.
  • The second program is the Serious and Violent Victim Offender Facilitated Dialogue Process.  This process allows victims of violent crime to request a dialogue with their incarcerated offender in a safe environment.  Having choices helps victims work through trauma and progress in the healing process.   Requests are carefully screened by an advisory committee.  If accepted, qualified facilitators are assigned to the case which is monitored carefully throughout the process.  Participation for both parties is completely voluntary and may be terminated at any time.  In many cases, the process can be beneficial and healing for both the victim and the offender.  Although this process can only be initiated by the victim, an offender may express his/her willingness to participate by writing an inmate communication to Victim Services which will be kept on file.
 
 
For more information on Victims' Services please see the Victim Services page or contact Karen Roddy, Victim Services Coordinator at 541-922-6091 for more information.

 
How do I make a death or emergency notification to an inmate?

Call the chaplain at the facility where the inmate is located (see below).  Notification is given to an inmate if someone has died or been hospitalized.  Be prepared to give the chaplain information he or she may need for verification such as where the person is hospitalized or the funeral home that is handling the funeral arrangements for the deceased.  All emergency notifications are verified before the notification takes place.  Alternative numbers are listed on the institution Religious Services web pages in case the chaplain is absent.  Please call until you speak to a live person.  Don’t leave a message as it may not be returned in a timely manner.
Religious Staff at Facilities 

 
Religious Services Links

Religious Attendance Profiles
Religious Services Rules and Policies