CHIPLEY — A doctor working under contract at the Northwest Florida Reception Center in Greenhead had that contract cancelled recently after he was told not to pray with inmates.
Dr. Douglas Collins was under contract to Maxim Medical Services working at Greenhead when he was told that a complaint had been made about his praying with inmates. Collins, a lifelong Christian, said he was surprised at the complaint.
“I’ve always prayed with my patients,” he said. “I always ask permission of them first.”
Collins said he was informed by Warden John Whitfield that while there was no set policy against such activity, “that as warden he set the policy” and said that it was the responsibility of the chaplain to tend to spiritual matters and for medical personnel to tend to medical matters.
Greta Plessinger of the Florida Department of Corrections said the doctor was working at Santa Rosa Corrections Institution and at Greenhead and had been warned at both locations about praying with inmates.
“This was mostly for security reasons,’ Plessinger said. “He was alone holding hands with the inmates while they were praying.
“Plus, not all the inmates are Christians, and we don’t want an inmate not wanting to go to a doctor for religious reasons.
“Dr. Collins was hired to do medicine. He could always have volunteered in his off hours to help with the chaplain’s service.”