Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Executive Director, Bryan Collier
Texas State Senator, Dean of the Senate John Whitmire
The Heart of Texas Foundation, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and The State of Texas Executive and Legislative Officials exist independently of one another. The entities have enjoyed the right and privilege to work together respectfully, successfully, and lawfully to provide long-term inmates the opportunities for voluntary but rigorous training and responsible service as part of becoming a Texas Field Minister. Each entity and its representatives are professional, accountable, and careful to respectfully bring our different areas of expertise together in this rehabilitation work—this work toward human flourishing. The State of Texas Governor and legislators provide the highest level of protection and permission for the Texas Field Ministers Program to exist. TDCJ, for safety and for reasons of law, trumps all endeavors within its walls all the while accepting and utilizing one of many programs—The Heart of Texas Foundation’s Texas Field Ministers Program to specifically serve men and women with long sentences who, upon becoming Texas Field Ministers, can responsibly go in the prison where no volunteer can go. The Heart of Texas Foundation actively provides, as a no-cost service provider to TDCJ, the entire Texas Field Ministers Program and its ongoing development, integrity, and funding including the physical classroom space and instructional materials for the educational components for the men and women. The Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies is the only degree recognized by The Heart of Texas Foundation and TDCJ as the only degree program through which a Field Minister can come.
TDCJ cannot lawfully drive an agenda of any faith. The Heart of Texas Foundation preserves and protects the Texas Field Ministers Program and its faith-based core. The Heart of Texas Foundation understands and respects the neutral accommodation TDCJ makes for inmates to practice their faith. As a no-cost service provider within TDCJ, we serve everyone in TDCJ to help inmates achieve and surpass the rehabilitation goals set forth by TDCJ. Every rehabilitation goal TDCJ has is also our goal at The Heart of Texas Foundation.
TDCJ accommodates the faith-based educational and service components of the Texas Field Ministers Program giving men and women with long sentences, who may never live anywhere but prison, the opportunity to show that they have achieved TDCJ’s goals. The Texas Field Ministers Program is one way TDCJ accomplishes its goal to “provide public safety, promote positive change in offender behavior, reintegrate offenders into society, and assist victims of crime.” TDCJ could accomplish their goals without the Texas Field Ministers Program, but the Texas Field Ministers Program provides evidence of the accomplishment of their highest goals.
The Heart of Texas Foundation understands and respects TDCJ’s professional and neutral accommodation of any religious aspect of the Texas Field Ministers Program. TDCJ’s rehabilitation goals and security structure serve as the compass of the daily operations of The Heart of Texas Foundation. Our clear roles and responsibilities and professionalism allow for continued improvement of the lives of men and women serving out their extremely long court-assigned sentences.
Ours is a statewide prison movement, and that requires close working relationships with key organizations and key individuals. We would not have teams of Field Ministers in training and in prisons without the historic working efforts of the State of Texas represented by the Governor’s office and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; and The Heart of Texas Foundation.
It has been our pleasure to attend the inaugurations of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott. Governor Patrick and Senator John Whitmire, Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, have been strong supporters of The Heart of Texas Foundation from the beginning. They immediately shared our vision for teams of Texas Field Ministers to be equipped, trained, and sent out into other prisons to serve the long sentences in ministry to others.
Thanks to our key partners, Field Ministers are given special, unprecedented job descriptions that would allow them access to virtually all parts of the prisons, under supervision— to minister to men living in the darkest of places.