This study assessed the effect of inmate religiosity on post-release community adjustment and investigated the circumstances under which these effects were most likely to take place.
Whereas numerous criminological studies have investigated the impact of correctional programs on post-release community adjustment, only a few published studies have examined the influence of religion as a means of managing the inmate population or as a key predictor of inmate recidivism. Further, despite the fact that both religion and the prison have been subjected to considerable study, little is known about how religion works in the prison setting. The current study was designed to explore the relationship between inmate religiousness and post-release community adjustment as measured by official criminal history reports of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The study was carried out by adding official criminal history information to an existing database that studied the relationship between religion and inmate adjustment to the correctional setting. The study sample consisted of 321 male inmates from 12 prisons throughout the United States. Multivariate analysis indicated that being a young offender, having an extensive arrest history, and having a high level of self-esteem were significant predictors of recidivism. Logistic regression analysis showed very little difference between religious and non-religious inmates in overall reduction of recidivism. However, a relationship appeared to exist between participation in religious programs and belief in the supernatural and post-release community adjustment. Inmates who reported high levels of participation in religious programs and reported high levels of belief in the supernatural were less likely to be arrested after release, regardless of whether they were classified as religious or non-religious. Findings indicate religious programs are important in the prison setting and should be considered as a potential rehabilitation tool. Findings do not support making administrative decisions, such as early release, parole release, and work release, on the basis of an inmate's claim of religiousness since this classification does not predict program success. Appendixes contain forms and methodological information related to the study. 149 references, 19 tables, and 2 figures
Date Published: January 1, 2000