FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 16, 2017
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NYC DOC AppoiNTS FIRST Staff CHAPLAIN
Buddhist Justin von Bujdoss to act as multi-faith leader
East Elmhurst, N.Y. – As part of its 14-Point Anti-Violence Initiative, the NYC Department of Correction has appointed Justin von Bujdoss as its first staff chaplain. Rev. Von Bujdoss is also the first Buddhist to serve as a chaplain at the Department, and the department hopes that its staff will benefit greatly from the fresh spiritual leadership he will bring to his ministry.
“Our uniformed officers, in particular, have a stressful job and the experience and skills that Chaplain von Bujdoss brings to this position will go a long way to addressing their needs,” DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte said. “We welcome Chaplain von Bujdoss to the DOC family.”
An accomplished multi-faith leader with extensive experience as a hospital and hospice chaplain, Rev. von Bujdoss serves as the head of newly formed Chaplain Unit, which serves the needs of the Department’s some 9,000 Correction Officers and 1,400 support staff.
Rev. Von Bujdoss’s appointment as chaplain is part of the 14-Point Anti-Violence Agenda, a department-wide reform effort to improve staff working conditions and training as well as conditions for inmates in the jails. The anti-violence agenda aims to create a “culture of safety” throughout the department through a variety of measures, including training officers in de-escalation techniques to head off inmate violence, Mental-Health First Aid to recognize symptoms of psychic distress and Safe Crisis Management, for dealing with younger populations. Besides ministering to officers’ spiritual needs, the chaplain will be called on to work with Department leaders and trainers to help build esprit de corps.
Rev. Von Bujdoss is a graduate of Antioch College and an ordained Buddhist Priest with more than 20 years of training in the United States and in monasteries throughout India. He called the appointment a “wonderful opportunity” and said he hopes to “bring spiritual support to the Correction Officers so that their hearts may be filled with flexibility, courage, a sense of safety within their work, and a feeling of connection to what brings them meaning.”
While Rev. von Bujdoss is the first chaplain assigned to staff, 27 chaplains, representing all major denominations, counsel inmates in the 12 jails run by the NYC Department of Correction.
About the New York City Department of Correction
The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) provides for the care, custody, and control of persons accused of crimes or convicted and sentenced to one year or less of jail time. The Department manages 12 inmate facilities, 9 of which are located on Rikers Island. In addition, the Department operates two hospital Prison Wards (Bellevue and Elmhurst hospitals) and court holding facilities in each borough. During Fiscal Year 2016, the Department handled over 63,000 admissions and managed an average daily inmate population of approximately 9,790 individuals.