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RSP Review
Tuesday, January 01, 2008


The RSP Review assists a chaplain in determining if his program meets requirements established by the ICE/ERO Detention Standards.  The goal is to underscore significant areas of compliance and enable chaplains to better serve the religious and pastoral needs of detainees.

1.      Are you monitoring religious preferences of detainees?

During a detainee’s in-processing at the detention facility, he is given the opportunity to register a religious preference. At any point a detainee can change his religious preference on file. It is important that chaplains track the religious preferences of detainees because this informs decisions such as a detainee’s attendance at religious services or whether a detainee has changed his preferences to gain an advantage.  For more information please read 5.5 Expected Practices – Religious Preferences.

2.      Do you have a basic knowledge of the religions represented by our detainees?

ICE/ERO requires that chaplains maintain a basic knowledge of the religions represented in the detainee population.  For this specific requirement and other chaplain duties, review 5.5 Expected Practices – Chaplains or Other Religious Services Coordinators. You can learn more about different religious traditions in parts of the RSP Development section and the World Religions 101 section.

3.      Does your RSP have volunteers (lay or clergy) and training materials?

Chaplains administering a RSP can recruit and train volunteers to augment the religious services provided to detainees. Often this is necessary to meet the religious needs of detainees that identify with different religions than the chaplain in charge of the RSP. You can familiarize yourself with this regulation by checking 5.5 Expected Practices – Chaplains or Other Religious Services Coordinators. Furthermore, 5.5 Expected Practices – Contractors and Volunteers clarifies other volunteer roles and requirements. Also, you can access sample volunteer training materials in the Volunteering section.

4.      Are volunteers aware of the requirements of your detention facility?

Each detention facility has rules and procedures for visitors that pertain to dress code, security, and other aspects of facility operations. You should make volunteers aware of these regulations. General ICE/ERO volunteer requirements are in the Volunteering section. You should also consult 5.5 Expected Practices – Contractors and Volunteers for additional direction on RSP volunteers.

5.      Do you know how to contact clergy from other religious traditions?

Contacting clergy from other religions may be necessary due to detainee request for pastoral care. Occasionally, a detainee will prefer to meet with a clergy member from his faith tradition. You should know the ICE/ERO regulation 5.5 Expected Practices – Pastoral Visits, but there is also an online Directory of Religious Centers through Harvard University that you can use to contact clergy from other religions.

6.      Have you created a schedule of religious services?

You should create a public schedule of religious services offered to detainees. Refer to 5.5 Expected Practices – Schedules and Facilities for the ICE/ERO policy. The RSP Development section contains additional resources about the religious practices of major world religions.

7.      Do detainees in SMUs or hospital units receive pastoral care?

Chaplains are required to minister to detainees in these units. The basic expectations are in 5.5 Expected Practices – Detainees in Special Management and Hospital Units.

8.      Do detainees request religious services unfamiliar to you?

If detainees request unfamiliar religious services, you can ask the detainee for further information. As the chaplain, you should research the request and religious service identified by the detainee before making a recommendation to the detention facility’s administrator. You should refer to 5.5 Expected Practices – Introduction of New and Unfamiliar Religious Components for guidance.

9.      Do you observe significant holy days of your detainee population?

Your detention facility should have policies about the observance of holy days, but as the chaplain, you will likely be responsible for coordinating the observance of holy days. You should review 5.5 Expected Practices – Religious Holy Days. The RSP Development and World Religions 101 sections have specific information on major holy days.

10.  Do you have a storage space for religious property?

One of the requirements concerning detainee religious property is that the chaplain must maintain a secure storage space for it. You should consult 5.5 Expected Practices – Religious Property and Personal Care for this regulation and other rules about detainee religious property. The RSP Development section has lists of the personal and congregate religious items used by many major religions.

11.  Do you process requests for religious diets?

The detention facility must accommodate the religious diets (daily or holy days) of the detainee population. 5.5 Expected Practices – Dietary Requirements and 4.1 Expected Practices – Religious/Special Diets (1-12) have the ICE/ERO religious dietary rules. You can refer to the RSP Development section for background on dietary requirements observed by various faith traditions.

12.  Have you assisted detainees with the observance of fasts (public or private)?

The chaplain is responsible for accommodations regarding detainee fasting. You should read 5.5 Expected Practices – Religious Fasts and 4.1 Expected Practices – Religious/Special Diets – 13 Religious Fasts and Seasonal Observances for a more detailed explanation.

13.  Do you use wine in religious ceremonies?

Some Roman Catholic and Jewish ceremonies require wine. Chaplains that use wine must comply with detention facility regulations about the amount, procurement, storage, and disposal. Please consult 5.5 Expected Practices – Religious Use of Wine for ICE/ERO expectations.

14.  Are detainees compelled to work on holy days?

In some cases, detainees do not have to work when observing holy days. 5.5 Expected Practices – Work Assignments outlines the policy.

15.  Do you handle issues related to the death or illness of detainees and/or family of detainees?

Detentions facilities should have policies for dealing with the death of a detainee as well as procedures for notifying a detainee about the death or illness of a family member. 5.5 Expected Practices – Death or Serious Illness of Family Members contains the regulation. The RSP Development section has a page covering the burial rituals practiced by different religions.