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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Visiting Privileges at Penal Institutions

Volume 1 . Chapter 3 . § 3-09

Many states allow ministers to enter correctional institutions for purposes of religious counseling and instruction. However, much discretion is given to prison authorities in deciding the conditions under which such visits will be allowed. It is customary to allow a prisoner to visit with a minister prior to the infliction of the death penalty, and some states provide for the presence of clergy at executions.

The First amendment does not forbid outsiders from entering prisons in order to conduct religious services and to "witness" to prisoners, at least if prisoners are not forced to participate. The practice of many prisons in employing chaplains has also been upheld against the claim that it constitutes a violation of the First amendment's ...

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