One of the first services provided to individuals in custody (ICs) by the Service League of San Mateo County were Religious Services. Individuals of all faiths in the San Mateo County Jails are guaranteed the right to have their religious needs met while incarcerated.
The Religious Services Coordinator is responsible for coordinating this essential service to make good on that guarantee. Over 150 currently approved volunteers provide more than 130 scheduled group religious services in the jails each month. Approximately 11,000 ICs attend these services throughout the year. Five volunteer chaplains regularly provide one-on-one contact visits on a monthly basis with ICs who request a visit. In addition to the regular services and contact visits, the Service League arranges numerous weekly religious visits by representatives from a variety of faiths who are not cleared to go inside the jails. These visits are requested by ICs and do not count against their allotted visits from family and friends.
Thanks to an endowment from a former volunteer, the Service League is able to provide over 800 Bibles and Qur’ans each year to ICs who request them. In addition, the Religious Services Coordinator provides death notifications and relays critical health information to ICs regarding their family members.
The Religious Services Coordinator is responsible for the preparation of jail clearance applications to the Sheriff’s Office for new and renewing volunteers who provide services in the jails under the auspices of the Service League, and for the training of new volunteers. The Religious Services Coordinator also facilitates the process for individuals who request to be married while incarcerated by processing the paperwork required by the Sheriff’s Office and the County Clerk’s Office and scheduling the wedding ceremony, if approved.