Few Protestant Pastors, Churches Prioritize Prison Ministries: Most Protestant pastors go to jail, at least for a visit, and want to help prisoners and their families. But their churches often lack the training or finances to run an effective prison ministry. The report comes at a time when incarceration rates in the United States remain at record levels. More than 2.2 million Americans are held in state and federal prisons or local jails,according to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research. That’s more than in any other nation in the world.