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Prison chaplains find jail visits even more urgent, rewarding in wake of pandemic

Sharon Crandall, director of Prism, prays with an inmate at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles. Photo/Chris Tumilty

By Pat McCaughan
Diocese of Los Angeles

For Prism staff and volunteers, the need to be companions and to share Communion with those in local jails and detention centers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has never been more urgent or more rewarding.

“People are daunted by the issue of incarceration, but that’s not what we’re doing,” says Ann Noble, program coordinator of Prism, the restorative justice ministry of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Often, she says, “it’s just one human being talking to another human being and sharing a story. So, it’s the biggest deal, and yet it’s not a big deal. It feels like it requires so much and all it requires is the greatest gift you have, which is your presence, and everyone can give that.”

While visiting those confined to Twin Towers, the Men’s Central Jail and the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood can seem scary, “an encounter can be sitting one-on-one with one person,” she said. “It can also be participating in a small service, a Mass, just a small group of people in a circle.

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