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Religious activity


Every prison in Estonia has a chapel and a chaplain. Detainees can thus observe their religious beliefs and customs while incarcerated. The chaplains guarantee the right to religious freedom in prisons, help the detainees in their religious needs and help them on their way back to the society.

The chaplain service is organized commonly by the Estonian Council of Churces and the Estonian state and it is acting in cooperation between different churches and religions. The chaplain meets people from different churces and religions as part of his daily duties, and helps them with different issues such as pastoral care, religious rites, diet, holidays, symbolism and literature. The chaplain keeps in mind the religious needs and freedom of all the detainees and works together with clerics from different churches and religions, and other volunteers.

The detainee can meet with the chaplain on a regular basis and take part in church activities and events. The two main areas of religious activity are individual pastoral care and participation in worship and other religious rites. Important religious rites are, for example, confession and communion, baptizing and confirmation. Chaplains also sometimes marry people in the prison. The detainee can learn about religious topics in classes and confirmation instruction.

Chaplains participate in the resocialization of detainees by carrying out religious social programs and advising the detainees in religious and ethical questions. The chaplain organizes reconciling with loved ones and puts the detainee in contact with a congregation or rehabilitation center that can offer social support and security after release from prison. The chaplain also coordinates the work of volunteers from different religious organizations (see Volunteers in Prisons).