In-Reach Program


Response to Criticisms Regarding Troth Policy on Felons in Troth Clergy within the In-Reach Program.

BACKGROUND: The Troth's current policy bars felons from serving as Troth Clergy. Some members have criticized In-Reach for this policy, citing essentially that In-Reach is  a proactive agent in prohibiting felons from serving as Clergy. While the criticisms were lodged in a frithful manner, they do not match the actual structure of The Troth's In-Reach Heathen Services program as defined in the Charter. Thus, it is important to clarify for the membership In-Reach's constraints and its opportunities.

CONTENT: Below is In-Reach response to the criticisms. The Troth's In-Reach efforts are defined by The Troth's policy barring felons from serving as Troth Clergy. The Troth's In-Reach program must observe the policies and procedures regarding Troth Clergy. However, the response includes a description of how In-Reach chaplains are not limited to Troth Clergy. Thus, felons who have proven themselves sufficiently for ordination in other organizations (after some vetting of the organization) can serve in In-Reach roles under the other organization's ordination.  

On 4/12/14 1:45 AM, "Robert L.-Schreiwer" <schreiwer@urglaawe.org> wrote:


Hail all!

I have been thinking about this a lot this evening, and there are a few salient aspects of In-Reach that I think are being misunderstood — and, I think, In-Reach is being given an unfair shake here.

I am not sure whether everyone who is involved in this conversation has read the The Troth’s In-Reach Charter or not. If not, I would encourage those who think that In-Reach has a conspicuous hole in it to read the charter. The entire “hole” issue was something I took into consideration when writing the Charter. The Charter is on the Troth Blog at

http://thetroth.blogspot.com/p/in-reach-program.html with links to it on www.thetroth.org > Programs > In-Reach Prison Services.

Within the Charter, there is no In-Reach prohibition against released felons serving as clergy. There are three roles that could be of particular interest to those who have been incarcerated and who want to help others out who are incarcerated now. These roles are Correctional Consultant, Visitation Representative, and Prison Clergy.

The Correctional Consultant is an internal position. Correctional Consultants have experience on the inside, whether as an inmate, corrections officer, administrator, chaplain, etc. These folks can provide information to help the other program staff to understand how things work behind bars and what sorts of things to look out for (or how to word things, etc.). This is no small matter. I think Distelfink would have begun to provide ceremonies earlier had we known certain things to include or not to include in our interactions with administrators and chaplains.

Visitation Representatives are non-ordained individuals who are vetted by The Troth to go into the prisons in order to help to provide opportunities for the increase of Heathen awareness and accessibility to Heathen materials. When I came up with the idea for this position, I saw it as being an stepping-stone opportunity to the Prison Clergy.

Prison Clergy: THIS is where the big misunderstanding seems to be. For starters, as far as I know, Diana is the only Troth-ordained Clergy to visit facilities as Prison Clergy (I may move to change this term to Prison Chaplain or to create another position). The rest of us utilize our ordinations from our kindreds or other organizations that we are familiar with enough to recognize as part of our program. There is nothing in In-Reach’s Charter that says that a felon who is ordained by another institution cannot take on the role of Prison Clergy. They are doing it under the auspices of their ordination from whatever entity gave them the ordination, but they are also able to get materials or to network via The Troth because they are fulfilling a role we sorely need. I am ordained through Distelfink. Others are ordained through other traditions or organizations. Another aspect to this is that we do have to be familiar with the ordaining organization or the individual who wishes to visit the prisons. This is, in a sense, a rudimentary vetting process.

If In-Reach were to require that all Prison Clergy must be ordained by The Troth, then I could see folks being indignant. However, Lisa and I took this into consideration. We only have a few chaplains who identify specifically as In-Reach (as opposed to an allied organization doing work on behalf or in conjunction with In-Reach). Of those who solely identify as In-Reach Chaplains, all are having their work funded by Distelfink. The Troth’s In-Reach budget is small as we experiment with how to make it work best in this first year. It will not take long for the responses to prison correspondence to blow through the budget. Thus, I and some of the other Mail Handlers have been paying the postage costs themselves without seeking reimbursement.

I had been unsure about how to handle some aspects of In-Reach, such as keeping track of the inmates and items sent (newsletters, and various articles go to individual inmates; books go to the facility via the chaplain, administrator, or an allied network). I am currently updating the tracking system and will be able to spread out the mail correspondence among more Mail Handlers.

In-Reach is a big project and the response has been overwhelming. I understand the concerns on all sides of this issue. However, I will state again clearly that In-Reach is NOT prohibiting felons from serving as in a clergy role. Quite the opposite: In-Reach provides a way for anyone who is ordained through a reputable and honorable organization to take on Prison Clergy status. Since, within In-Reach, only Diana is Troth Clergy (so far), a felon who is ordained by a known kindred or organization and who has proven him/herself to the community will have the same circumstances as those chaplains who are part of In-Reach with ordinations from other organizations.

I admit that defining acceptable organizations is going to take some review and input from The Troth — members included! Unfortunately, we have not had such a huge rush of volunteers to In-Reach yet, so this has not been an issue. I would, though, like to get it settled or at least have guidelines in place before the situation arises in which a felon is requesting that In-Reach recognize an ordination from an organization with which we are not so familiar.

In-Reach is continuing to evolve, and many folks are doing yeoman’s work in order to help bring a positive Heathen message to inmates, chaplains, and administrators.

Now then, regarding The Troth’s policy on felons in The Troth Clergy, we can have that discussion. However, In-Reach is not a central point to that issue.

I have requested this before and am requesting it again: If someone has ideas as to how to strike a balance between the paid debt of the felon and the cautious concerns of some of the membership, please us come up with a better policy. Also, we can always use more volunteers for a variety of duties within The Troth. If we do decide to go the route of some sort of larger vetting process, then we will need input and involvement from more members; otherwise, that process will be an additional duty that a small group of volunteers is undertaking.

I hope this helps to clear up some misperceptions about the relationship of Troth Clergy to In-Reach. I have a few more nagging thoughts that I will handle under separate cover.

Thanks!

Rob

In-Reach Heathen Prison Services has an ongoing need for book donations and cash donations to defray photocopying and materials costs.

Monetary donations may be arranged by contacting the Pennsylvania Troth Steward (pasteward@thetroth.org), who will help you to work with The Troth to arrange an earmarked donation.

Book donations may be arranged by contacting the Pennsylvania Troth Steward or by visiting an event or drop-off location.

DROP-OFF EVENTS

August 31: The next drop-off event is Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day on August 31, 2013. In-Reach is a beneficiary of this event. We are in particular need of Heathen books; please see the list on the PPPD site. Pagan materials will also be accepted and distributed by In-Reach to allied networks in the community. Donations may be given at The Troth's table, Distelfink Sippschaft's table, or the Welcome tent. Receipts can be provided at any of those locations, upon request. 

PERMANENT DROP-OFF LOCATIONS

Pennsylvania 

Bristol: Contact pasteward@thetroth.org or call Rob at 215-499-1323. This is a Distelfink location.

Posted: August 12, 2013

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Below is the text of the proposal for the establishment of the In-Reach Heathen Prison Services Program. This proposal was approved by the High Rede during the 2nd Quarter 2013 Board Meeting.

This program is in its beginning phase. Its policies and procedures will be further defined and scrutinized by the High Rede in order to ensure that all facets are aligned with our Mission and Position Statements. As such, this is a living document that will be updated as needed.

The pilot efforts that led to the creation of the In-Reach program continue in two facilities with a third on the way. 


The Troth's In-Reach Heathen Prison Services Program
v. 1.12 June 4, 2013 
Robert Lusch - Schreiwer

Title of Program:  In-Reach - Heathen Prison Services
Note: This program is in its beginning phase. Its policies and procedures will be further defined and scrutinized by the High Rede in order to ensure that all facets are aligned with our Mission and Position Statements.
Mission of the Program: The mission of In-Reach is to provide Heathen religious information and materials and, when possible, visitation to inmates at correctional facilities, transition houses, and halfway houses throughout the United States. This is a Troth-driven effort to interact with facility administrators and inmates directly, and, when possible and feasible, to lead Heathen discussion groups or ceremonies.
Position/Need for the Program: Various forms of Heathenry are growing rapidly in all prison systems in the United States. In many situations, the only exposure that inmates have to any of the Heathen paths consists of materials tinged with racism and white supremacy.
Part of The Troth's Mission Statement is to welcome all people, whatever their religious, cultural, or ancestral background, gender or sexual orientation, who have developed or wish to develop a relationship with our Gods and Goddesses, and would like to know more about Asatru (and thus implying other Heathen paths). It is, therefore, is consistent with our Mission to increase the presence and availability of Troth materials in correctional facilities throughout the country.
Although there is some debate as to whether frith allows for inmates to be attended to until their debt to society is repaid, there are other angles to consider that are equally relevant under frith.  Whether inmates have access to positive Heathen influences is part of a larger issue that has an impact on the whole of the Heathen community. In many cases, the perception of Heathenry is defined by radical racist elements from the prison population.
The administrators are not blindly or randomly inventing their perceptions; the perceptions have formed from the presence of race-based books, tattoos, and gang behaviors that have been found among the Heathen prison population.  A radicalization based on race and/or ethnicity is taking place in some facilities. When these radical racists are released into the general population, the history of their experience and influence will become an even bigger problem for us than it is now. Thus, prison outreach efforts are a frithful move to protect the folk from this destructive radicalization. This program meets a need that supersedes the unpaid debt of individual prisoners.

As an international Heathen organization, The Troth is uniquely situated to provide these services, to train and to vet volunteers, and to stand before the media and the prison administrators as a representative voice of Heathenry. This is a voluntary effort on the part of Troth members.
The purpose of this program is to educate the inmates and administration about Heathenry and to aid the administration in the provision of Heathen services, including ceremonies. Additionally, this program will counteract misinterpretations about Heathenry and conduct outreach to the facilities' administrators, including Chaplains.
While some inmates may be drawn to the organization and to join as a result of The Troth's work, this program is not intended as a recruitment tool for membership in The Troth. Additionally, this program is not intended to support inmate-led activities or groups. This program will not support, endorse, or encourage the creation of clergy or hierarchy among the incarcerated prison population.
The team will be comprised of members of The Troth who are in good standing and who are not currently incarcerated. The qualifications for all positions in this program are subject to the bylaws, policies, and procedures of The Troth.
Positions
Note: There are many Heathen paths, and those volunteering in any position must have some familiarity with the needs of the particular inmate population with which they are interfacing. Solid knowledge of general (meaning: common to all paths) Heathen principles is important, but some knowledge of the nuances and differences in spiritual viewpoints among the Heathen traditions is valuable.

Program Coordinator: Robert Lusch-Schreiwer took his Oath of Office as Program Coordinator. It is the responsibility of the Program Coordinator to oversee and to facilitate the interaction between In-Reach and other Troth programs and Officers. The Program Coordinator is responsible for effecting policies and procedures, within the parameters of The Troth's Bylaws and Mission and Position Statements.
Team Leads: Currently Robert Lusch-Schreiwer, Lisa Morgenstern
Team Leads have experience in interfacing with administrators and in conducting inmate visitation. The team leadership will make policies and procedures recommendations to the Program Coordinator and serve as advisors to other team members. The team leadership can also facilitate initial contact with prison administrators.
Prison Clergy: These are clergy members (whether ordained by The Troth or by established religious organizations) who visit the facilities as Troth representatives or on behalf of The Troth.  Prison Clergy can interface with administrators and chaplains. The Prison Clergy must adhere to prison rules and to policies and procedures set forth by the In-Reach leadership.
Visitation Representative: The Visitation Representatives are volunteers who are not ordained by any organization but are still vetted and recognized by The Troth as representatives capable of interfacing with inmates, presenting Troth messages, and helping to facilitate, to organize, or to lead ceremonies. Visitation Representatives must adhere to prison rules and to policies and procedures set forth by the In-Reach leadership.
Correctional Consultant: This is a unique and very important position designed to recognize the experience and expertise of former inmates who have an interest in helping inmates who are still incarcerated. Many volunteers who visit prisons are unaware of various codes, symbols, and other aspects of prison life. Troth members who are familiar with the prison system can advise how best to approach inmates and how to interpret symbols and codes, etc. A Correctional Consultant may also serve in other positions when qualified under current policies of The Troth.
Troth Mail Handler: Many facilities do not allow for a person who visits the site also to engage in contact via written correspondence. While The Troth currently has at least one volunteer answering inmate letters, we may need additional volunteers to help answer increased mail flow as this program grows. Mail Handlers must be familiar with the rules of the prison wherein their inmate contacts reside and must be able to transmit The Troth's messages in a consistent and reliable manner.

Requirements and Training

Requirements: The requirements for each position are still subject to scrutiny and definition. The requirements below are listed for the purposes of initiating discussion and establishing the program.

Prison Clergy: Prison Clergy must have an ordination from The Troth or from another qualifying organization. 

Currently, all Troth ordinations are qualified. Robert Lusch Schreiwer's ordination from Distelfink Sippschaft is recognized and qualified, and the First Pantheistic Center of Antelope Valley's recognition of the ordination of Lisa Morgenstern is accepted and qualifed.
Visitation Representative:  A Visitation Representative must be a Troth member for a year and a day.  We are currently investigating the option of a training module for this position.
Correctional Consultant: A Correctional Consultant must be a member of The Troth for a year and a day and must be an individual who worked, resided, or volunteered in a correctional facility setting for at least three months. We are currently investigating the option of a training module for this position.
Preparation for Team Members: Must be a member of The Troth for a year and a day and must present functional knowledge of general Heathen principles. We are currently investigating the option of a training module for this position.
Troth Mail Handler: Troth Mail Handlers must be able to present Troth messages accurately and reliably and must be able to answer mail in a timely manner. (We do not encourage Mail Handlers to use their home address for their correspondence with inmates). Troth Mail Handlers must also know the correspondence rules of the facilities in which corresponding inmates are housed.

Evidence of Sufficient Training: (Completed training modules, examples of writing)Reporting: All individuals working as representatives of The Troth in the In-Reach program will submit a quarterly report to the Team Leads, who will, in turn, provide a report to the High Rede.

Facilities

Approaching Facilities: The Program Coordinator or Team Leads may initiate contact with some facilities, particularly via e-mail, but Prison Clergy and Visitation Representatives may also initiate contact with facilities in which they would like to serve as in-person volunteers. Mail Handlers will not initiate contact with facilities but will carry out the written correspondence in conjunction with, and in response to, the needs of Prison Clergy and Visitation Representatives.

Interaction with Inmates: All contact with inmates must be consistent with the rules of a particular correctional facility and also with the policies, procedures, and messages of The Troth.  Thus, if a particular facility does not allow for the same person both to visit and to write to an inmate, then that rule must be respected.
All volunteers representing The Troth in person must be dressed appropriately (business casual or more formal) per the rules of the prison. In many prisons, this rule means that one must not wear khaki of the same color as the inmates' uniforms.
All volunteers should refrain from sharing personal information about themselves, including marital status, family details, place of employment, etc. These positions require a level of decorum and emotional distance that allows for The Troth's work to be carried out while protecting the integrity of The Troth and the privacy and safety of the volunteers.
A centralized e-mail address (e.g., mail-handler_In-Reach@thetroth.org) may be created to receive incoming inquiries from Chaplains. Additionally, some inmates in some facilities may have access to e-mail, and a centralized e-mail address may be used to respond to inquiries.  As this program evolves, The Troth may also decide to use a centralized P.O. box for the reception of paper mail. Mail coming into that box would then be distributed to appropriate Mail Handlers.
The privacy of all prisoners must be respected. If a volunteer is meeting with multiple prisoners at once, then the volunteer must ask for the permission of each inmate to speak openly and freely about personal matters of a spiritual or religious nature. If the inmate is uncomfortable with that arrangement, then individual visitation, if possible, may be necessary. If it is not possible, then contact of a personal nature should be referred to a Mail Handler.
All volunteers have a right and a responsibility to their own safety and security. Personal information should not be shared, and a certain level of formality should be maintained. Inmates should call volunteers by their titles (Mr. Schreiwer, Ziewer Schreiwer, Reverend Schreiwer) rather than their first names. If a particular prisoner makes the volunteer uncomfortable, then the volunteer has the right to pass on future in-person meetings and to defer contact with that prisoner to a Mail Handler.

Frequency: As this is a volunteer effort, the frequency of contact may vary. Mail Handlers should undertake every effort to answer mail in a timely manner (within 20 business days of reception), and in-person visitation volunteers should strive to visit their facility once per month. Liability: (Liability and insurance would fall under the same arrangements as those of other Troth officers?)

Roles of Other Troth Team Members
Stewards: Some Stewards may wish to volunteer to take on one of the In-Reach volunteer roles, and those who do will be assisted by the In-Reach team. Stewards are also occasionally contacted by inmates or learn of incarcerated Troth members in their New Member Alerts. Stewards can also inform the In-Reach Team Leads of incarcerated Troth members so that team efforts may be undertaken to attend to the inmates who are members first.
Clerk: The Clerk, like the Steward, is often aware of incarcerated Troth members and can notify the Team Leads of new members who may need In-Reach services.
Public Relations: The Public Relations team may encounter inquiries from inmates, administrators, or the families of inmates regarding Troth services. The Public Relations team should have access to information that can be transmitted to those inquiring, and the PR team can forward requests, if appropriate and warranted, to the Team Leads.
Clergy: The Clergy leadership can help to find qualified volunteers to serve as Prison Clergy and can also help to create or to provide materials designed to answer to the spiritual and religious needs of inmates.
Lore Program: The Lore Program can provide inmates with information about resources for all Heathen paths relevant to the inmates' needs. The Lore Program already has an excellent list for Asatru and Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, and this list can be expanded to include Urglaawe, Forn Sidr, Theodism, etc., as there is a demand for information on these paths in the prisons.
Publications and Shope: Publications by The Troth are in need and in demand. The Troth does an excellent job of producing, shipping, and making these items available for purchase. If needed, older publications, such as Working Within, can be republished and the volunteers can, if possible, have copies of the book on hand to provide to administrators and chaplains.
Funding
The Troth already has a Prison Literature Fund that is funded by member donations. This existence of this fund, as well as the needs of the In-Reach program, can be included on the Join Us page of The Troth's website. Only Chaplains may request literature funded by the Prison Literature Fund. Requests are fulfilled on a first come, first served basis.
Additional funding options may be explored as the program evolves.
Reviews, Feedback, and Conflict Resolution
The Team Leads will be responsible for conducting periodic reviews of the In-Reach program. Such reviews will consist of asking the volunteers for feedback and also of asking the administrators and chaplains for their input.
Conflict resolution within the team will be handed through the Ombudsman, per Troth procedure. Conflict resolution between volunteers with inmates, chaplains, or administrators will be handled by the Program Coordinator or a Team Lead, the volunteer, and the appropriate individuals in the facility per the facility's policies and procedures.

1 comment:

  1. This is for Lisa M. I emailed you earlier this year but lost your email. I have a box of books on ASATRU that I need to donate to Delano contact Wegman. I have the form CDC 922, Authorization to accept gifts/Donations but I don't know the procedure. Do I open the box and insert the CDC 922 and mail it to inmate or mail box to her directly?
    Amy Wiechert

    ReplyDelete