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Social Theory, Sacred Text, and Sing-Sing Prison: A Sociology of Community-Based Reconciliation (From Religion, the Community, and the Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders, P 231-247, 2002, Thomas P. O'Connor, Nathaniel J. Pallone, eds. -- See NCJ-200419)

NCJ Number
Victoria Lee Erickson
Date Published
17 pages
This paper describes and examines the effectiveness of the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program offered in Sing-Sing Prison as a component of the urban community-based professional education programs at New York Theological Seminary (NYTS).
In 1981, the New York Theological Seminary (NYTS) created a Masters in Professional Studies (MPS) for all religiously affiliated inmates serving long sentences who would return to their respective prisons to work as chaplain’s assistants. In this chapter, the MPS program is discussed and examined in the Sing-Sing Prison. The Sing-Sing classroom is a NYTS classroom which is critical to the program’s success. The MPS program is run as a mission of the school. By looking historically at the MPS program, it is seen as a community-based corrections project. The chapter explores the simultaneous use of social theory and sacred texts as teaching tools and intervention strategies in the educational and personal transformation process of men incarcerated for violent crimes. In addition, Pfohl’s model for constructing social structure is discussed as it relates to choosing theorists at NYTS. Pfohl’s set of six “interpretative procedures” establishes a list of interactions between persons that forms a shared understanding of the rules that will shape behavior. In a two-way process, the instructor teaches the theory and uses the theory to precipitate normal natural change in his/her students. Human beings can teach each other how to be reconciling through any means. The means discussed through the MPS program is one of social theory and the sacred text. References