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Faith-Based Corrections and Reentry Programs: Advancing a Conceptual Framework for Research and Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2011
77 pages
This study surveyed faith-based in-prison and reentry programs across the United States in order to identify key program characteristics and determine the extent and manner in which faith or spirituality infuses program content and activities.
Survey findings show varying characteristics among faith-based programs, even among programs representing the same faith tradition (e.g., Christian). Among the 48 programs responding to the survey, 85 percent referred to themselves as faith-based; however, those programs that did not identify with the three Abrahamic faith traditions (Christian, Jewish, and Islam) preferred being viewed as "spiritually-based." Analysis of the survey responses indicates that faith-based programs are differentiated by the manner and degree to which faith and spirituality are reflected in program identity, religious activities, staff and volunteers, and key outcomes. Program outcomes ranked as most relevant to program objectives were deepening personal spiritual commitment (44.4 percent), reduced offending (37.7 percent), and reduced use of drugs and alcohol (11.1 percent). Stable housing and educational attainment were not selected by any sample respondent as the most relevant outcome for their programs. The five most prevalent services provided by respondents included ministry/spiritual development (85 percent); life skills training (83 percent); mentoring (81 percent); aftercare/reentry services (79 percent); and employment services (73 percent). Overall, the programs in the respondent sample were most likely to seek partnerships with community-based organizations and the faith community, including faith-based nonprofits. The respondents were least likely to collaborate with Federal, State, or local governments on program and service issues. These distinctions suggest direction for future research, since they identify constructs and measures for further investigation. 11 tables, 35 references, and appended faith-based program hone interview guide, and the survey instrument

Date Published: March 1, 2011