In Kharkiv, Eastern Ukraine, has ended a field session of the Board of the Ukrainian Interdenominational Christian Mission "Spiritual and charitable care in prisons", which took place 26-27 of May, 2015 at the institutions of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine in Kharkiv region.
The meeting discussed measures regarding the enactment of the prison chaplaincy, the vision of each Church ministry on rehabilitation, prevention of repeat offenses, special pastoral conditions in the occupied territory of East Ukraine and the issue of assistance to prisoners who have been find themselves through the war in inhuman conditions. Church spokesman on pastoral care in the penitentiary system Fr. Constantin Panteley has summarized proposals for the Christian formation of personnel of the SPS of Ukraine. During his stay in Kharkiv, he attended a Rehabilitation Center for former prisoners led by Deacon of Evangelical Christian Baptists Victor Dudka, who has many years of experience of ministering.
Together with field session have been organized visits to Kuryazh colony for juveniles, the Kharkiv remand prison, the Kachanivska women colony (№54), the Holodnogorska colony (№18), Dergachivska colony (№109). Chaplains had an opportunity for live communication with staff and with inmates of penitentiary institutions. They familiarized with conditions of inprisonment. A meeting with participants of the project "Strengthening the role of civil society in protecting the rights of vulnerable prisoners in Ukraine" has accured as well. The main purpose of the field meeting of the representatives of Churches was to discuss the implementation of prisoners' rights to freedom of religion in the light of the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on regulation of activity of clergy (chaplains) in the organs and institutions belonging to the jurisdiction of the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine" adopted by Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on May 14, 2015.
The most important result of the meeting was approaching of Christian Churches to a shared vision of the modern chaplain ministry, which has transform penal system and the lives of our fellow citizens who fell into conflict with law and society through criminal acts. The presence of pastors in the colonies and prisons is also important in view of cases where innocent people find themselves in jail, or when the human rights of inmates are violated. There are great spiritual needs of staff from the prison service, which requires more and more implementation of Christian principles in their work. Having the special conditions of work and stress, rights of personnel treated sometimes even weaker as the rights of prisoners. This is especially true for decent wages and social guarantees required. Chaplains as witnesses repeatedly put this issue before the public and the state. Without that, our country could not approach international standards for the humanization of the prison system.