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Religion in Prisons 1999 and 2000

NCJ Number
Farid Guessous; Nick Hooper; Uma Moorthy
Date Published
30 pages
This document presents data on the religious affiliation of prisoners in Prison Service establishments in England and Wales for the years 1999-2000.
The data originated from the central Inmate Information System (IIS). The religious affiliation of a prisoner is recorded at reception in to a prison establishment. Religion is self-reported by the prisoner. The Prison Service recognizes more than 40 different religious denominations. In 2000, the largest group of inmates was Anglicans, who formed 39 percent of the prison population. Next was the group with No Religion (32 percent) followed by Roman Catholics at 17 percent and Muslims at 7 percent. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs each accounted about a half of one percent of the population. The fastest growing group was prisoners with No Religion, which more than doubled in size between 1993 and 2000. The prison population as a whole grew by 55 percent over the same period. Between 1993 and 2000, the number of Muslims doubled. Buddhists, although relatively very small in number, grew faster than average, increasing by 60 percent over the same period. The number of all Christians grew more slowly than the average, falling from 75 percent of the total population in 1993 to 59.5 percent in 2000. Roman Catholicism was the fastest growing Christian denomination. Roman Catholics accounted for approximately one sixth of the prison population in each year between 1993 and 2000. Inmates with No Religion were most likely to be under 30 years old, white, male, and serving a sentence of less than 3 years. Of prisoners serving a life sentence in September 2000, the majority (65 percent) was Christian, while 24 percent had no religion. The group that was least likely to contain life-sentence inmates was Non-recognized religions. Some religions, such as Buddhism, Judaism, and Free Church, contain a disproportionate number of life sentence inmates. 7 figures, 15 tables