Where Prayer Is the Currency of Choice
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I Was In Prison
Online Prison Ministry Newsletter
January 30, 2009
Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

Where Prayer Is the Currency of Choice
By: Dale Recinella

Union Correctional Institution is like a miniature city—except it's a prison.

There are almost 1,000 prisoners who are allowed to walk around and work during the day. They are called general population and are able to come to the chapel for prayer ministry and worship services. The rest are in solitary confinement. That includes over 330 on death row, another 400 or so in disciplinary solitary, and about a hundred in psychiatric solitary.

Then there are the men housed in the prison medical hospital. Every malady one finds in an outside hospital is presented inside, too. Not infrequently, men die here. This prison is growing. Hundreds more psychiatric solitary cells are under construction. [They have come online in the past five years.]

I am the Catholic lay chaplain. My job is to make the rounds, cell to cell, offering prayer, fellowship and emotional support to each man. A very few want none of it. Most hunger for all they can get. It takes about four weeks to make the circuit here and at Florida State Prison next door. That hulking monolith houses over 1,100 men in long-term solitary confinement. It's also the home of the death house, the execution chamber in the basement of Q-Wing. The upper floors of Q-Wing contain Florida's most severe disciplinary cells: maximum sensory deprivation, cells built within cells.

These two prisons are my primary work. It's hot—no air-conditioning except for the few cells for crisis stabilization in psychiatric solitary. When the heat and humidity gets unbearable, as it usually does from the beginning of July until the end of August, an entire wing will reverberate with the cries and the pounding of men being driven virtually to the edge of insanity by the incessant and unrelieved heat.

The staff who must also function in this environment need spiritual support as well. I'm here for them, too.

There are also the families that come to visit. I'll step out of my car in the parking lot only to see a woman my mother's age bent over her trunk lid, shaking with gut wrenching sobs. She has just finished a non-contact visit on death row with her husband, or her son or her grandson. She is facing a lonely 5 or 10 or 20-hour drive home.

Then there are the executions. The week of daily visits called deathwatch. The final five hours at cell front. My wife is with the family of the condemned while I am with him as he is killed.

Then the post-execution time with his family until they leave for home.

And, most difficult of all, the time spent with the loved ones of the murder victim in non-death penalty cases. A living room, a dining room, even a home patio can all become a place of solitary confinement for the loved ones who will spend the rest of their days listening for that cherished voice that they will never hear again—not in this world.

A currency is a standard that reduces everything to a common denominator. What could possibly be a point of connectedness among all these tears?

There is only one currency, only one legal tender that can bridge these oceans of suffering and sorrow. It is the currency of prayer. Nothing else can purchase anything of value to minister to the depth of these needs.

First published: The Healing Line (September/October 2002)
© 2002 Dale S. Recinella & The Talahassee Democrat.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
No further reproduction or republication without prior written permission.


I Was In Prison
News & Updates
This ezine is targeted for people involved in prison ministry or in stopping the death penalty, we think you will find helpful information for people who are undecided about capital punishment, for those who have never experienced the inside of a jail or prison, and for those who feel called to participate through prayer and adoration.

Your name and information will never be used or shared with anyone. We promise!

Dale S. Recinella, Catholic Lay Chaplain, Florida Death Row and Solitary Confinement
Susan M. Recinella, Clinical Psychologist for mentally ill adults, and Catholic Lay Minister to Families of the Executed

If you Like this Weekly Ezine - You will love Dale's Book!
Sr. Patricia Proctor
Paperback: 433 pages

Excellent book on the topic!,
June 13, 2005 Nathan Eanes
(Review from Amazon.com)

The Biblical Truth about America's Death Penalty is a must-read. It deals with Biblical standards of Capital Punishment and then compares them to the system used in America today. It is the best-researched, most faithful to scripture, and most evenhanded analysis I have ever read concerning the Death Penalty. Whatever your persuasion on the issue, this book will teach you a great deal. Recinella is a trained lawyer and committed Christian who now volunteers part-time on Florida's death row. He thus understands law, the Bible, and the system of execution in America. I challenge anyone who supports the Death Penalty to read this book.

This ezine edited by Sister Patricia Proctor, OSC - Poor Clare Sister
to support the IWasInPrison Outreach