Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2008 Volume 4 :: Article 5
2008 Volume 4, Article 5
The Faith Factor and Prisoner Reentry

Author: Byron R. Johnson (Baylor University)

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Between 1980 and 2006, the U.S. prison population increased by 467 percent (from 319,598 to 1,492,973). The inevitable increase in the number of released prisoners returning to communities across the country (approximately 700,000 ex-prisoners per year) has created a national debate about how best to handle the prisoner reentry crisis. Religious activities can play a positive role in the lives of prisoners while they are incarcerated, and research shows that religiosity is associated with reducing negative outcomes and promoting prosocial behavior. Consequently, faith-based organizations can play an important role in helping to reduce recidivism. A multifaceted approach to prisoner reentry would require new public-private partnerships and a significant influx of volunteers, many of whom could be drawn from religious congregations. Intermediary groups are necessary to bring a comprehensive prisoner reentry effort to scale because these organizations serve as the bridge between ex-prisoners and the many social service providers and governmental agencies that are active in the areas of employment, housing, education, and counseling. Intermediaries can provide technical assistance and oversight as well as offering training to strengthen faith-based and community-based organizational capacity.

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