The Kairos program is widely recognized as a highly effective method to positively change inmate attitudes. By changing attitudes and winning lives for Christ, prisons have seen a reduction of inmate violence and an increase in rehabilitation.
Kairos has its roots in the Cursillo Movement, when men began to bring Cursillo into the prison environment. The first such weekend was held at Union Correctional Institution at Raiford, Florida in the fall of 1976. The national Cursillo Organization surveyed prison Cursillo programs and determined they should be ecumenical, supervised by a central authority, and the format should be modified to better meet inmate needs. The first Kairos Inside program was presented in 1979.
In San Diego, a group of men had heard of the Kairos Prison Ministry and wanted to start the ministry at Richard J Donovan Correctional Facility (RJDCF). RJDCF has four main Facilities (A-D) which are commonly referred to as Yards. Each Yard has a different security level from Level 1 (Minimum Security) to Level 4 (Maximum Security). In 1990 a small group of Clergy and Laity attended a Kairos Insideweekend held at the Nevada State Prison in Jean, Nevada.
In March of 1991 the first Kairos Inside was held in Yard A at RJDCF. For the next three years one Kairos Inside weekend was held in either Yard A or Yard B (both Level 3) each October and March. In March of 1994 Kairos of San Diego expanded the ministry at RJDCF to cover both Yard A and Yard B at the same time. This meant holding fourKairos Inside weekends each year, something that was not happening anywhere else in the Kairos Ministry in the U.S. or abroad.
In 1993, the Kairos ministry expanded into Yard C (then a Level 3, now a Level 4), which meant that Kairos of San Diego was holding sixKairos Inside weekends a year. This continued until a reorganization of the prison forced Kairos of San Diego to cut back to supporting only two Yards (A and C) and four Kairos Inside weekends per year. In 2011, RJDCF was again reorganized which opened the possibility to expand Kairos Inside weekends to Yards B and Yard D in the future. In March of 2014, Kairos of San Diego started a Kairos Inside weekend for Yard D. Kairos of San Diego at RJ Donovan is the only Kairos Chapter to hold three simultaneous Kairos weekends in a single facility. In October of 2014, Kairos of San Diego had their 100th Kairos Inside weekend in Yard C at RJ Donovan.
Kairos of San Diego is composed of two components: Kairos Insideand Kairos Outside. Kairos Inside is designed to bring the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ into the prison environment. WhileKairos Inside Prison Ministry is an excellent program to provide a religious experience for men inside prison, Kairos Outside is designed to encourage the loved ones who are supporting those incarcerated men. Kairos Outside is for the women loved ones of the inmates and takes place outside of prison, but follows a similar format as Kairos Inside. Kairos Outside is designed to encourage the loved ones who are supporting those incarcerated men and women. Kairos Outside is for the women who are the inmates’ loved ones and takes place outside of prison. It follows a similar format as Kairos Inside.
Kairos Outside began in 1989 as an idea from the Chaplain at San Quentin State Correctional Facility in California after the first Kairos Inside Prison Ministry retreat was held there. The idea for Kairos Outside came about when the prison chaplain mentioned how much he thought that the families of prisoners needed a spiritual support community of their own. Kairos Outside was started in San Diego in 1994 and holds two Kairos Outside weekends each year.
Kairos Prison Ministry Today
The motto of the Kairos program is “Listen, Listen, Love, Love”. Kairos is an inter-denominational prison ministry designed to support state and federal men’s and women’s correctional institutions of the U.S. and abroad. This ministry is governed by the national board of Kairos, Inc. with headquarters in Winter Park, Florida. Kairos Inside is active in 350 prisons in 31 states in the U.S. and in the countries of Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, South Africa and the United Kingdom. The Kairos Outside ministry is active in 35 locations and includes 24 U.S. states, Canada, England, Australia and South Africa.
Kairos of San Diego is always looking for new volunteers to help expand this ministry. With the possibility of additional Kairos InsideWeekends in Yard B and Yard D, we will need more volunteers to help staff those weekends. With an increase in Kairos Inside, there will also be a need to expand the Kairos Outside program as well. Please consider supporting this important ministry through donations of your time, talent or finances. To donate, please click here.