Currently, all Troth ordinations are qualified. Robert Lusch Schreiwer's ordination from Distelfink Sippschaft is recognized and qualified, and the First Pantheistic Center of Antelope Valley's recognition of the ordination of Lisa Morgenstern is accepted and qualifed.
The Troth's In-Reach Heathen Prison Services Program
v. 1.12 September 3rd, 2017
Robert Lusch - Schreiwer
Title of Program: In-Reach - Heathen Prison Services
Note: This program is in its beginning phase. Its policies and procedures will be further defined and scrutinized by the High Rede in order to ensure that all facets are aligned with our Mission and Position Statements.
Mission of the Program: The mission of In-Reach is to provide Heathen religious information and materials and, when possible, visitation to inmates at correctional facilities, transition houses, and halfway houses throughout the United States. This is a Troth-driven effort to interact with facility administrators and inmates directly, and, when possible and feasible, to lead Heathen discussion groups or ceremonies.
Position/Need for the Program: Various forms of Heathenry are growing rapidly in all prison systems in the United States. In many situations, the only exposure that inmates have to any of the Heathen paths consists of materials tinged with racism and white supremacy.
Part of The Troth's Mission Statement is to welcome all people, whatever their religious, cultural, or ancestral background, gender or sexual orientation, who have developed or wish to develop a relationship with our Gods and Goddesses, and would like to know more about Asatru (and thus implying other Heathen paths). It is, therefore, is consistent with our Mission to increase the presence and availability of Troth materials in correctional facilities throughout the country.
Although there is some debate as to whether frith allows for inmates to be attended to until their debt to society is repaid, there are other angles to consider that are equally relevant under frith. Whether inmates have access to positive Heathen influences is part of a larger issue that has an impact on the whole of the Heathen community. In many cases, the perception of Heathenry is defined by radical racist elements from the prison population.
The administrators are not blindly or randomly inventing their perceptions; the perceptions have formed from the presence of race-based books, tattoos, and gang behaviors that have been found among the Heathen prison population. A radicalization based on race and/or ethnicity is taking place in some facilities. When these radical racists are released into the general population, the history of their experience and influence will become an even bigger problem for us than it is now. Thus, prison outreach efforts are a frithful move to protect the folk from this destructive radicalization. This program meets a need that supersedes the unpaid debt of individual prisoners.
As an international Heathen organization, The Troth is uniquely situated to provide these services, to train and to vet volunteers, and to stand before the media and the prison administrators as a representative voice of Heathenry. This is a voluntary effort on the part of Troth members.
The purpose of this program is to educate the inmates and administration about Heathenry and to aid the administration in the provision of Heathen services, including ceremonies. Additionally, this program will counteract misinterpretations about Heathenry and conduct outreach to the facilities' administrators, including Chaplains.
While some inmates may be drawn to the organization and to join as a result of The Troth's work, this program is not intended as a recruitment tool for membership in The Troth. Additionally, this program is not intended to support inmate-led activities or groups. This program will not support, endorse, or encourage the creation of clergy or hierarchy among the incarcerated prison population.
The team will be comprised of members of The Troth who are in good standing and who are not currently incarcerated. The qualifications for all positions in this program are subject to the bylaws, policies, and procedures of The Troth.
Note: There are many Heathen paths, and those volunteering in any position must have some familiarity with the needs of the particular inmate population with which they are interfacing. Solid knowledge of general (meaning: common to all paths) Heathen principles is important, but some knowledge of the nuances and differences in spiritual viewpoints among the Heathen traditions is valuable.
Program Coordinator: Mallory Brooks took her Oath of Office as Program Coordinator. It is the responsibility of the Program Coordinator to oversee and to facilitate the interaction between In-Reach and other Troth programs and Officers. The Program Coordinator is responsible for effecting policies and procedures, within the parameters of The Troth's Bylaws and Mission and Position Statements.
Team Leads: Mallory Brooks, Robert Lusch-Schreiwer, and Rory Bowman
Team Leads have experience in interfacing with administrators and in conducting inmate visitation. The team leadership will make policies and procedures recommendations to the Program Coordinator and serve as advisors to other team members. The team leadership can also facilitate initial contact with prison administrators.
Prison Clergy: These are clergy members (whether ordained by The Troth or by established religious organizations) who visit the facilities as Troth representatives or on behalf of The Troth. Prison Clergy can interface with administrators and chaplains. The Prison Clergy must adhere to prison rules and to policies and procedures set forth by the In-Reach leadership.
Visitation Representative: The Visitation Representatives are volunteers who are not ordained by any organization but are still vetted and recognized by The Troth as representatives capable of interfacing with inmates, presenting Troth messages, and helping to facilitate, to organize, or to lead ceremonies. Visitation Representatives must adhere to prison rules and to policies and procedures set forth by the In-Reach leadership.
Correctional Consultant: This is a unique and very important position designed to recognize the experience and expertise of former inmates who have an interest in helping inmates who are still incarcerated. Many volunteers who visit prisons are unaware of various codes, symbols, and other aspects of prison life. Troth members who are familiar with the prison system can advise how best to approach inmates and how to interpret symbols and codes, etc. A Correctional Consultant may also serve in other positions when qualified under current policies of The Troth.
Troth Mail Handler: Many facilities do not allow for a person who visits the site also to engage in contact via written correspondence. While The Troth currently has at least one volunteer answering inmate letters, we may need additional volunteers to help answer increased mail flow as this program grows. Mail Handlers must be familiar with the rules of the prison wherein their inmate contacts reside and must be able to transmit The Troth's messages in a consistent and reliable manner.
Requirements and Training
Requirements: The requirements for each position are still subject to scrutiny and definition. The requirements below are listed for the purposes of initiating discussion and establishing the program.
Prison Clergy: Prison Clergy must have an ordination from The Troth or from another qualifying organization.
Visitation Representative: A Visitation Representative must be a Troth member for a year and a day. We are currently investigating the option of a training module for this position.
Correctional Consultant: A Correctional Consultant must be a member of The Troth for a year and a day and must be an individual who worked, resided, or volunteered in a correctional facility setting for at least three months. We are currently investigating the option of a training module for this position.
Preparation for Team Members: Must be a member of The Troth for a year and a day and must present functional knowledge of general Heathen principles. We are currently investigating the option of a training module for this position.
Troth Mail Handler: Troth Mail Handlers must be able to present Troth messages accurately and reliably and must be able to answer mail in a timely manner. (We do not encourage Mail Handlers to use their home address for their correspondence with inmates). Troth Mail Handlers must also know the correspondence rules of the facilities in which corresponding inmates are housed.
Evidence of Sufficient Training: (Completed training modules, examples of writing)Reporting: All individuals working as representatives of The Troth in the In-Reach program will submit a quarterly report to the Team Leads, who will, in turn, provide a report to the High Rede.
Approaching Facilities: The Program Coordinator or Team Leads may initiate contact with some facilities, particularly via e-mail, but Prison Clergy and Visitation Representatives may also initiate contact with facilities in which they would like to serve as in-person volunteers. Mail Handlers will not initiate contact with facilities but will carry out the written correspondence in conjunction with, and in response to, the needs of Prison Clergy and Visitation Representatives.
Interaction with Inmates: All contact with inmates must be consistent with the rules of a particular correctional facility and also with the policies, procedures, and messages of The Troth. Thus, if a particular facility does not allow for the same person both to visit and to write to an inmate, then that rule must be respected.
All volunteers representing The Troth in person must be dressed appropriately (business casual or more formal) per the rules of the prison. In many prisons, this rule means that one must not wear khaki of the same color as the inmates' uniforms.
All volunteers should refrain from sharing personal information about themselves, including marital status, family details, place of employment, etc. These positions require a level of decorum and emotional distance that allows for The Troth's work to be carried out while protecting the integrity of The Troth and the privacy and safety of the volunteers.
A centralized e-mail address (e.g., mail-handler_In-Reach@thetroth.org) may be created to receive incoming inquiries from Chaplains. Additionally, some inmates in some facilities may have access to e-mail, and a centralized e-mail address may be used to respond to inquiries. As this program evolves, The Troth may also decide to use a centralized P.O. box for the reception of paper mail. Mail coming into that box would then be distributed to appropriate Mail Handlers.
The privacy of all prisoners must be respected. If a volunteer is meeting with multiple prisoners at once, then the volunteer must ask for the permission of each inmate to speak openly and freely about personal matters of a spiritual or religious nature. If the inmate is uncomfortable with that arrangement, then individual visitation, if possible, may be necessary. If it is not possible, then contact of a personal nature should be referred to a Mail Handler.
All volunteers have a right and a responsibility to their own safety and security. Personal information should not be shared, and a certain level of formality should be maintained. Inmates should call volunteers by their titles (Mr. Schreiwer, Ziewer Schreiwer, Reverend Schreiwer) rather than their first names. If a particular prisoner makes the volunteer uncomfortable, then the volunteer has the right to pass on future in-person meetings and to defer contact with that prisoner to a Mail Handler.
Frequency: As this is a volunteer effort, the frequency of contact may vary. Mail Handlers should undertake every effort to answer mail in a timely manner (within 20 business days of reception), and in-person visitation volunteers should strive to visit their facility once per month. Liability: (Liability and insurance would fall under the same arrangements as those of other Troth officers?)
Roles of Other Troth Team Members
Stewards: Some Stewards may wish to volunteer to take on one of the In-Reach volunteer roles, and those who do will be assisted by the In-Reach team. Stewards are also occasionally contacted by inmates or learn of incarcerated Troth members in their New Member Alerts. Stewards can also inform the In-Reach Team Leads of incarcerated Troth members so that team efforts may be undertaken to attend to the inmates who are members first.
Clerk: The Clerk, like the Steward, is often aware of incarcerated Troth members and can notify the Team Leads of new members who may need In-Reach services.
Public Relations: The Public Relations team may encounter inquiries from inmates, administrators, or the families of inmates regarding Troth services. The Public Relations team should have access to information that can be transmitted to those inquiring, and the PR team can forward requests, if appropriate and warranted, to the Team Leads.
Clergy: The Clergy leadership can help to find qualified volunteers to serve as Prison Clergy and can also help to create or to provide materials designed to answer to the spiritual and religious needs of inmates.
Lore Program: The Lore Program can provide inmates with information about resources for all Heathen paths relevant to the inmates' needs. The Lore Program already has an excellent list for Asatru and Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, and this list can be expanded to include Urglaawe, Forn Sidr, Theodism, etc., as there is a demand for information on these paths in the prisons.
Publications and Shope: Publications by The Troth are in need and in demand. The Troth does an excellent job of producing, shipping, and making these items available for purchase. If needed, older publications, such as Working Within, can be republished and the volunteers can, if possible, have copies of the book on hand to provide to administrators and chaplains.
The Troth already has a Prison Literature Fund that is funded by member donations. This existence of this fund, as well as the needs of the In-Reach program, can be included on the Join Us page of The Troth's website. Only Chaplains may request literature funded by the Prison Literature Fund. Requests are fulfilled on a first come, first served basis.
Additional funding options may be explored as the program evolves.
Reviews, Feedback, and Conflict Resolution
The Team Leads will be responsible for conducting periodic reviews of the In-Reach program. Such reviews will consist of asking the volunteers for feedback and also of asking the administrators and chaplains for their input.
Conflict resolution within the team will be handed through the Ombudsman, per Troth procedure. Conflict resolution between volunteers with inmates, chaplains, or administrators will be handled by the Program Coordinator or a Team Lead, the volunteer, and the appropriate individuals in the facility per the facility's policies and procedures.