Prison ministry & Ratting out my Dad


I hope Moral Theology is the right forum.

This situation is complicated…I’ll try to keep it simple. NB: My objections are IMO.

My father is 75 yrs old, moved to Florida to retire and be closer to my brother 15 years ago. He got into the Catholic prison ministry as soon as he got there…so it’s very much part of his life and volunteer work. That being said, he is acting completely inappropriately --IMO – with the prisoners. He gives them his home address, they’ve been there upon release. He has stupidly mailed more than a few of them $1,000’s through the years. My father has no concept of how these prisoners manipulate and groom people in order to take advantage of them, I have no doubt that the “word has spread” that this man is a fool.

Making matters worse–my brother is a guard at one prison my dad goes to. Dad sees this as a huge talking point with the prisoners. He has no sense of boundaries. He tells these prisoners things like, “next time you see (name) tell him…” Usually personal stuff or money related stuff. My brother ONLY has this prison job for 20 years now. He failed the psychological exam first and appealed it to finally get the job. He was in special Ed in school, so I figure the part he failed was the “saying NO” and “don’t let the prisoners manipulate you” portion of the exam…

I don’t want to disrespect my dad, but he won’t listen to (my) reasoning about having firm boundaries with the prisoners. If he loses money, that’s his money to lose, but I am very concerned about his stupid actions getting my brother fired. I read a book about “prisoner seduction”. An example from the book was a true Incident in which a WARDEN let a PEDOPHILE move into his home and subsequently the pedophile molested the warden’s young daughter! The warden was seduced by prisoner to completely believe he was innocent… That’s how deep “prisoner seduction” can go. They have all day to dream up ways to use a tiny bit of personal info about the guards, while the guards don’t think about them AT ALL (unless there’s something wrong with guard or guard has already been compromised by prisoner.)

To make a long story short, should I report my dad as being incompetent to continue prison ministry? If so, do I call the prison and give his name? I don’t know who is in charge of the particular ministry in which my dad participates. I don’t know what to do. I have talked to my dad for the past 2-3 years and he thinks these people are his friends, he will not listen to reason. I don’t even think he does much ministering, he thinks it’s a social opportunity IMO. Thank you!


Your father not living his life as you want him to is not a reason to stir up trouble. If you believe he is mentally incompetent, based on something OTHER than his prison ministry, talk to an attorney. Otherwise, butt out.


Well that’s what I’m torn between… It’s not just that he’s “not living as I want him to,” he’s putting himself and my brother in danger by ignoring the basic prison ministry rules, which specifically say not to engage in any personal relationship with the prisoners.

Thank you, though. Duly noted. I’m becoming more inclined to butt out, as you have a good point, he’s not mentally incompetent in any way, even this one-- he’s just naturally friendly and trusting.

I will try to put it in Our Lady’s hands and trust in God.


Agree completely.


Your father sounds like a good man. And I hope some of that was passed on to his Children. Many saints did what you are describing. And yes, many times they are taken advantage of. But he is really doing exactly as Christ commanded. You should think about this. You should be proud of him.

I know you are protective of your elderly father, but he sounds like someone I would be proud to call dad.

Let the prison decide if things are inappropriate.


I disagree with the previous responses. Your father is, in fact, putting himself and possibly your brother in danger.

My thought would be to find out who’s in charge of the prison ministry and discuss the situation with this person. I am assuming they could address the problem in a way that would stop the inappropriate behavior yet allow your father’s ministry to continue.

Does your brother know that this is going on? It might be something to discuss with him. Something needs to be done before your father is harmed or swindled in some way, yet in a way that doesn’t disrespect him.

Praying about this situation.


Thank you for your prayers. I’m praying, too.

My brother told me about dad telling the prisoners that he is a guard there, and the silly “messages”. Just incredibly bad judgment IMO! My brother is NOT happy, cause now these prisoners never let a chance go by without acting like they know the whole family…and knowing my brother, the aggravation shows on his face, so they do it more. He can give them infractions for talking to him, but I bet he’s never given one in his career.

When I said he ONLY has this job 20 years, I mean this job is his LIFE. He’s got a family and two kids, but being a guard is a very big part of his persona. Like I said, he was in Special Ed because he was a “blue baby” (oxygen deprived). He’s very blessed to have a good secure job with all the benefits!

My mom told me about the money sending years ago…this I think is foolish, but it’s their money. I’m more worried they’ll get tied up and robbed someday. My mom isn’t concerned about any of it. My parents both go to Mass daily, yes they’re good people.

I think I’ll leave it in God’s hands unless I get even more alarming news. Thank you all for your kind words and support!


I agree with this response. The brother being discussed or having prisoners relay messages to him is bizarre and inappropriate.


If you do have concerns, especially regarding the safety of your brother or father, there is no disrespect in relaying those concerns to the prison authorities, even secretly. It may even be necessary. These concerns appear genuine and are not something to be glossed over.

Do what you think is right.


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