For the third year in a row, Fr. John Kowalczyk gave a three-hour workshop at the Drexel Medical College 27th Forensic Conference, held on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019.
Fr. John Kowalczyk stated the following: “Working with mentally ill inmates who are in the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) or Solitary Confinement, one will be confronted with inmates who have been isolated from the normal prison setting.” Fr. Kowalczyk stated, “One has to minister with compassion and unconditional positive regard with an open heart and become an instrument in restoring his humanity with kindness and dignity. This restoration will aid and help restore purpose, direction and meaning into his already broken life.” Fr. John has been involved in this “Out-of-Cell” program with inmates for the past five years in SCI Waymart.
During the workshop, Fr. John made the following five educational objectives:
1. Examine the trauma of the mentally ill inmate who finds himself in solitary confinement.
2. Explore the impact of a chaplain with a caring heart as a necessary tool to work through this isolation of the RHU.
3. Analyze the concept of guilt and feeling of helplessness from a spiritual dynamic when the mentally ill inmate finds himself isolated, broken and separated from his familiar mental health unit.
4. Recognize the importance of offering prayer when one appears out-of-control and the life of the inmate appears unmanageable.
5. Integrate positive memories and family religious celebrations as a means of healing during this time of isolation and try to maintain this caring and pastoral relationship.