CUERO, Texas — The Stevenson Unit Chapel Fund Association intends to solicit donations and grants to help build a chapel for all faiths at the Clarence N. Stevenson Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in Cuero.
The TDCJ’s rehabilitation programs, including religious services, have had an impact on the number of offenders returning to prison. In fact, the TDCJ has one of the lowest rates in the country, according to the Stevenson Unit Chapel Fund Association’s website.
The Stevenson Unit houses more than 1,300 inmates. It currently has no chapel facilities but has a growing number of inmates that are attending religious services. They are attending services either in one of the facility’s educational classroom (the largest having a maximum capacity of 60 people) or a non-climate-controlled gymnasium when it is available. The limited seating available makes it difficult for all interested inmates to attend.
The Stevenson Unit Chapel Fund Association was created on Nov. 12, 2012 for the sole purpose of collecting funds to build a chapel that would better serve the needs of the inmates. The association’s goals are to set up a nonprofit organization to handle the funding, work with the TDCJ on building plans, collect $2.5 million to fund the project, and to facilitate and oversee the construction and completion of the project. The chapel should cost no more than an estimated $2.5 million to build.
The chapel will serve all faiths, will have an office for the chaplain and will have a kitchen to prepare food. It will be built large enough to have room for up to 300 inmates in the main chapel and 30 more in each of four classrooms (or 60 in two rooms with closing walls) so that different faiths can practice simultaneously. A library filled with various religious texts from different faiths will also be part of the project.
The group is currently collecting money at www.chapelfund.org.