Criminal Justice Ministry

Criminal Justice Ministry provides pastoral care to victims and survivors of crime as well as the incarcerated and their families.




We are a team of Catholic chaplains and ministry volunteers committed to providing one-on-one pastoral care, Catholic Masses, sacraments, prayer services, Bible studies, retreats and other spiritual services inside Western Washington’s jails and prisons. We support and accompany all people affected by incarceration, including survivors of crime, occupants of correctional facilities, and all involved family and community members. We are committed to systemic change via restorative justice peacemaking circles that address crime/harm and foster healing. We are additionally committed to re-entry approaches that empower faith communities to provide mutually transformative wraparound support for former prison residents. We believe in transforming suffering rather than transmitting it.

A better model of justice

Years of harsh and increasingly retributive responses to crime have resulted in the U.S. maintaining the highest prison population on earth. Our hope is to cultivate a restorative model of criminal justice that will transform suffering by identifying and addressing the deeper needs and traumas underlying any occurrence of harm.  Restorative justice is a model that seeks healing for all rather than punishment of one. Ultimately, we recognize the broken body of Jesus in everyone impacted by crime and we are therefore committed to accompanying all affected people on their journey toward transformation and wholeness. We believe this approach honors the Gospel imperative to resist all that diminishes personal dignity and crushes the human spirit. Instead, we seek to manifest resurrection and the kingdom of heaven on earth.  

Our reach

  • 9 Department of Corrections (DOC) state prisons
  • 7 county jails

  • 5 juvenile detention facilities

  • 1 tribal jail

  • 1 state special commitment center 

  • 1 federal detention center

  • 1 federal immigration detention center

Our team

  • 1 archdiocesan director
  • 1 administrative coordinator
  • 16 paid facility chaplains (6 priests, 1 deacon, 9 lay ministers)
  • 10 volunteer facility chaplains (2 priests, 4 deacons, 4 lay ministers)
  • 150+ additional jail, detention and prison ministry volunteers

Our Core Initiatives

Catholic chaplaincy in action

Catholic chaplaincy

Do you have a loved one who has been incarcerated in a Western Washington correctional facility? If so, we have available chaplains, ministry volunteers and spiritual programs that provide one-on-one pastoral care, access to sacraments and opportunities for healing and spiritual growth.

We seek to encounter Christ in jails and prisons while offering the ministry of presence.

Interested in volunteering? Our various ministries are always in need of pastoral listeners, Bible study leaders, etc. Are you being called to visit the imprisoned?    

Restorative justice peace circles

Between 2016 and 2018, our archdiocese participated in a groundbreaking restorative justice movement that unfolded within the King County Juvenile Court system. We learned the art of peacemaking circles and applied it to juvenile felony cases in lieu of traditional court and incarceration.  

While the local movement has pivoted away from addressing felony crime in this way, the Church stands ready to be activated again as justice systems explore new ways to implement restorative practices in alignment with the Gospel.

In the meantime, Criminal Justice Ministry is available to facilitate restorative peace circles for Catholic schools, parishes and families that are experiencing harm or difficulty and desire a more healing approach to conflict resolution.

OPOP allows the Kingdom of Heaven to emerge.

One Parish One Prisoner (OPOP)

Did you know that there are roughly the same number of incarcerated people in Washington State as churches?  Imagine if each of our churches agreed to enter into relationship with just one person in prison.  

One Parish One Prisoner is a re-entry model that matches parishes with an incarcerated person for their mutual transformation and resurrection. 

A relationship of trust is built through letter writing and prison visits. And when the time comes, this person will experience the embrace of an entire parish community who already knows them and can assist with the many obstacles to re-entry.

Is your parish ready to encounter Christ and become transformed?  We can equip parishes with orientations, online learning modules, ongoing consultation, meeting structures, resources and materials.

Read more about it in U.S. Catholic and Northwest Catholic.

Play Video

Jail and Prison Ministry 101

Learn how to accompany those affected by incarceration and how to offer a ministry of presence in correctional facilities in this free six week course. Share your ministerial experience and gain a rich theological understanding of our mission.

Click here to learn more

Click here to apply

Criminal Justice Ministry resources

Criminal Justice Ministry

Meet our Chaplains

Criminal Justice Ministry in action

Proud member


Terri Nelson

Director of Integral Human Development | Office of the Vicar General

206-274-3103 |

710 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104-2017