U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Religiousness and Post-Release Community Adjustment Graduate Research Fellowship--Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
17 pages
This study explored the relationship between the religiousness and post-release community adjustment of male inmates, as measured by official Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history reports.
The study was based on a quasi-experimental design of two groups of prisoners, a religious group and a non-religious comparison group. Inmates completed a battery of questionnaires about their background characteristics, religious beliefs and activities, and institutional experiences during the last weeks before their release from prison. Within 3 months after their release, surveys were conducted with inmates who could be reached by telephone. The telephone survey included questions about the emotional adjustment of ex-inmates to freedom and about their civic and religious activities, drug and alcohol use, and criminal behavior during the 3-month post-release period. Results showed the religion measures of belief, society, personal identity, morality, and history were not statistically significant. In contrast, the religion measures of transcend and ritual were statistically significant, with transcend being the most important determinant of recidivism. According to the ex-inmates, religion gave them an opportunity to compensate for their past behavior and to seek forgiveness from God. This belief in God was strengthened and reinforced through ritual participation in various religious sacraments and activities. Moreover, participation in religious programs reinforced and strengthened the ex-inmate's religious commitments and beliefs. Offenders who identified themselves as Protestants were less likely to recidivate than offenders who were not Protestants. Risk measures of offender age at the time of release were statistically significant, and the reduction in arrest rates for ex-inmates was primarily the result of maturation effects. Most prison adjustment measures were not statistically significant, but the prison adjustment measure of self-esteem was statistically significant. Overall, total number of prior arrests and age of offender at release were the most significant predictors of recidivism. Religiousness and religion measures are listed in an appendix. 2 footnotes

Date Published: January 1, 2000