All Christian Jail Ministry (CJM) staff and volunteers (including mentors) must be very discreet about information given to others about inmates, former inmates, members of their families, correctional institution staff, and CJM personnel and volunteers. No private personal information about these may be disclosed. Even accidental disclosure of private personal information is a violation of confidence. Good judgment and respect of the rights of those encountered as part of CJM’s ministry is required.
CJM volunteers (including mentors) may acquire substantial information about those to whom they minister and about others involved in some aspect of CJM’s ministry. Some of that information is private personal information. CJM volunteers (including mentors) should not expect to be given information about those to whom they minister that is unnecessary for their ministry, and they should not share private personal information with anyone except those who have responsibilities relative to the person (such as others in the team of mentors helping a former inmate or CJM personnel guiding the team). All who acquire private personal information are required to treat it in a confidential and professional manner.
Private personal information includes such things as a person’s criminal record, personal problems such as drug addiction or alcoholism, family difficulties, etc. Discussion of such should not take place in public places or within the church congregation. If one’s involvement in CJM’s ministry is discussed with others, it should be done in such a way that the identities of those ministered to is protected (no use of names and no description in ways that the individual can be identified by others). The only exception to this is for information that the person involved has made public (such as a former inmate who tells about his life in talks before churches and other groups), and even then it is wise to be discreet about sharing such information.
It is acceptable for CJM volunteers (including mentors) to share their experiences, needs, prayer requests, etc. as long as private personal information is not disclosed. For example, one could say, “I needed more wisdom as I talked with an inmate/former inmate/inmate family member who had serious problems, and the Lord gave me unexpected insight to help.” If a CJM volunteer has questions about whether or not something is appropriate for disclosure, that information should not be disclosed. Always get guidance from a CJM chaplain about questionable items before disclosing them. You don’t want to inadvertently create problems.
Violation of confidentiality can be cause for termination of a volunteer’s involvement in CJM ministry.