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A Mixed Method Evaluation of the Role of Religion in Desistance and Reentry

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 40 Issue: 1 Dated: 2023 Pages: 1-26
Date Published
26 pages

This study presents a mixed method evaluation of the role of religion in prison, recidivism, and reentry.


The authors of this study use a longitudinal mixed methods design based on data collected from men in a Therapeutic Community in a Pennsylvania prison to (1) compare the prevalence of psychological versus sociological mechanisms of religion in prison, (2) assess variation in recidivism outcomes by trajectory of religious engagement, and (3) explore the utility of religion in overcoming structural barriers to successful reentry. Literature holds that religious engagement can help prisoners cope with prison life and suggests it may affect the likelihood of recidivism. But despite agreement that religion supports identity transformation and generates social control, few studies have examined the utility of these mechanisms during both prison and reentry. The relationship between religion and desistance may be complicated by structural barriers to reentry and high rates of substance use among incarcerated populations. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023