Mary Brown’s engaging book describes the ‘lifeline’ work of the prison chaplaincy. Written by a Quaker chaplain, it shows how important to prisoners this contact is and how it blends into the ever-pressing world of prison regimes. Among the topics covered are the ‘statutory duties’ of chaplains, forgiveness, ‘prison chapel goers’, Christmas in prison, delivering bad news, dealing with grief or anxiety, learning in prisonand restorative justice (which is in line with the teachings of many faiths: as old as religion itself). As the author insists, there is ‘that of God’ to be found in everyone no matter what their crime. Critical, perceptive and of particular interest to people working in or learning about crime and punishment, Confessions of a Prison Chaplain contains insights for people of all faiths (or none); looks at restorative justice and positive justice; and re-affirms the importance of pastoral support in the reform and rehabilitation of prisoners.
‘ … its appeal is in the frankness and openness with which Mary Brown treats her doubts and fears, her frustrations with prison officialdom, and the environment of an aging prison … a valuable read for those currently active in or contemplating prison ministry’- friendsjournal.org
‘Engaging, thought-provoking… contributes to our understanding of the hidden, often neglected world of prison’- Juliet Lyon.
Featured in Stroud News – Jail chaplain’s inside story (external link).
”Those in prison are daily confronted with the consequences of past mistakes, of what they did wrong. Some spoke of an inner ‘evil’, which might threaten their very existence. To meet with a group which celebrated their essential goodness, and valued them for what they were, must be healing, not the least to self-respect…something positive in lives when all must seem negative.”
As the author describes in Chapter 4, long ago she was shocked to be held for ten days in a prison cell after taking part in a peace demonstration. Much later in life she became a teacher in an open prison then, in more recent times, a Quaker prison chaplain for ten years in a closed men’s prison. She is the author of Inside Art (2001).