U.S. Department of Justice

Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in Corrections

Correctional agencies may choose to offer rehabilitative offender programming that uses a faith-based model. Within institutions, these initiatives are offered in addition to standard opportunities for inmates to observe their own religious practices. Many prisons and jails have separate housing units with a religious focus.

Programs inside institutions often network to link individuals to the resources needed to reenter the community successfully. Outreach to inmates and offenders is frequently provided by faith-based volunteer and community organizations.
  • Examples of more recent programs, such as the Faith- and Character-Based Initiatives in Florida and Indiana, are provided.
  • Guides, best practices, toolkits, and studies on the development and effectiveness of faith-based programs are available both for institutional and community settings.

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Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2013
Document preview
Estimating the Benefits of a Faith-Based Correctional Program
By Duwe, Grant; Johnson, Byron R..
This “recent outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (InnerChange), a faith-based prisoner reentry program that has operated within Minnesota’s prison system since 2002, showed the program is effective in lowering recidivism. This study extends research on InnerChange by conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the program. Because InnerChange relies heavily on volunteers and program costs are privately funded, the program exacts no additional costs to the State of Minnesota. As a ... Read More

13 pages
2012
Document preview
Can a Faith-Based Prison Reduce Recidivism
By Johnson, Byron R..
The use of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) in Texas prisons is evaluated. This program appears to be a promising strategy for promoting prosocial behavior. 'IFI is a Christ-centered, Bible-based prison program that supports and encourages inmates through a process of spiritual and moral transformation, which begins while they are incarcerated and continues after release' (p. 61). The program has three phases: two while in prison lasting 16-24 months and an aftercare phase of 6 to 12 mon... Read More
PDF
3 pages
2012
Document preview
An Outcome Evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative
Minnesota Dept. of Corrections (St. Paul, MN).
Results from an outcome evaluation of the faith-based prisoner reentry program InnerChange Freedom Initiative are reviewed. Not only is the risk of participants recidivating significantly reduced (reoffending by 26%, reconviction by 35%, and new offence reincarceration by 40%), the program is also very cost-effective. “The findings suggest that faith-based correctional programs can work, but only if they apply what is known about effective correctional programming” (p. 3).... Read More
PDF
3 pages
2011
Document preview
Faith-Based Corrections and Reentry Programs: Advancing a Conceptual Framework for Research and Evaluation
By Willison, Janeen Buck; Brazzell, Diana; Kim, KiDeuk. National Institute of Justice (Washington, DC). Urban Institute. Justice Policy Center (Washington, DC).
Answers to questions regarding what a faith-based program is and how “faith” operates in that program are sought. This report is useful to those individuals tasked with classifying a program as faith-based and eventually evaluating that program. Findings are given for: description of the sample--respondent and program backgrounds; program operations--target population, caseload characteristics, eligibility criteria, and referral sources; operational capacity—staffing and funding; and faith and s... Read More
PDF
77 pages
2010
Document preview
Evaluation of the Ridge House Residential Program: Final Report
By Willison, Janeen Buck; Roman, Caterina Gouvis; Wolff, Ashley; Correa, Vanessa; Knight, Carly R.. National Institute of Justice (Washington, D). Urban Institute (Washington, DC).
The effectiveness of the Ridge House program to reduce recidivism is examined. Ridge House is a “spiritually-based, short-term transitional housing program that provides substance abuse treatment and employability training to parolees in need of support and services as they transition from state prison to the Reno (NV) community” (p.iii). Sections of this report include: abstract; executive summary; introduction; Ridge House program; evaluation design and methods; impact analysis and findings; a... Read More
PDF
92 p.
2008
Document preview
A Model for Social Justice: Collaboration Between Faith-Based and Community Organizations and Corrections: Highlights
National Institute of Corrections (Washington, DC).
Highlights are provided of advice given by individuals from correctional agencies and faith-based and community organizations on how to create successful partnerships. Sections of this presentation are: understanding each other—questions and concerns; making partnerships work; legal issues; and getting started.... Read More
VIDEO
1 video DVD (17 min.)
2007
Document preview
A Model for Social Justice: Collaboration Between Faith-Based and Community Organizations and Corrections [Satellite/Internet Broadcast held September 12, 2007]
National Institute of Corrections Academy (Aurora, CO).
Collaboration between faith-based organizations, community organizations, and corrections has proven to be a cost-effective way to meet agency needs and bring much needed services to offenders. This unique partnership also helps to promote social justice, reduce recidivism, and increase public safety. This 3-hour program examines the myths, realities, boundaries, and benefits of this collaboration while providing information to help correctional leaders achieve new and more successful re-entry i... Read More
VIDEO
2 DVDs (165 min.)
2005
Document preview
Residential Faith-Based Programs in State Corrections
LIS, Inc. (Longmont, CO); National Institute of Corrections Information Center (Longmont, CO).
Results from a survey regarding residential faith-based programs in 51 U.S. prison systems are reported. Residential faith-based programs are being operated or developed in 41% (21) of the responding agencies. Program details and contact information are included (if provided).... Read More
PDF
11 p.
2006
Document preview
Faith-Based Approach to Correctional Issues: Report of the National Institute of Corrections Advisory Board Hearings
National Institute of Corrections. Advisory Board Faith-Based Committee (Washington, DC).
Answers to the questions of whether successful public-private faith-based partnerships exist, roadblocks to such collaborations, and what role the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) can play in fostering such partnerships between correctional and law enforcement agencies and faith-based organizations are supplied. Sections of this report include: panel recommendations (executive summary); recommendations for action; introduction; opening remarks; participant presentations (Panel 1 -- Advoc... Read More
PDF
40 p.

Related Resources

Date Title Type
2014
Document preview
American Correctional Chaplains Association
American Correctional Chaplains Association (ACCA) (Seattle, WA).
“Much like our colleagues in the military and at hospitals, correctional chaplains provide pastoral care to those who are disconnected from the general community by certain circumstances – in this case to those who are imprisoned, as well as to correctional facility staff and their families when requested. Where permitted, we also minister to the families of prisoners. Each correctional chaplain is also a representative of his or her faith community and is required to be endorsed by their denomi... Read More

2013
Document preview
Inmate Tattoos and In-Prison and Post-Prison Violent Behavior
By Bales, William D.; Blomberg, Thomas G.; Waters, Kevin.
“Despite more than a century of interest and extensive literature on tattoos and crime, the potential relationship between inmate tattoos and in-prison violence and post-prison recidivism for violent crimes has been largely ignored in prior criminological research. The present study responds to this research void by providing a comprehensive empirical assessment of inmate tattoos and in-prison violence and post-prison recidivism for violent crimes” (p. 20). Findings show that inmates with one o... Read More

12 pages
2013
Document preview
Estimating the Benefits of a Faith-Based Correctional Program
By Duwe, Grant; Johnson, Byron R..
This “recent outcome evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (InnerChange), a faith-based prisoner reentry program that has operated within Minnesota’s prison system since 2002, showed the program is effective in lowering recidivism. This study extends research on InnerChange by conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the program. Because InnerChange relies heavily on volunteers and program costs are privately funded, the program exacts no additional costs to the State of Minnesota. As a ... Read More

13 pages
2013
Document preview
Legal Issues in Jails—2013
By Collins, William C.. National Institute of Corrections. Jails Division (Washington, DC).
Topics covered include: some religious issues in jails--head coverings, skirts, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and inmates claims, kosher diet, and sincere religious beliefs; Bits and Pieces—Rastafarian dreadlocks search, tobacco ban, and psychogenic polydipsia; and Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) enforcement.... Read More

35 pages
2013
Document preview
Webinar: The Recidivism Reduction Checklists: A Resource for State Leaders and Corrections Agencies
National Reentry Resource Center (New York, NY).
“Three checklists are introduced during this webinar, each tailored to distinct audiences: 1) Executive and Legislative Policymakers; 2) State Corrections Administrators; 3) State Reentry Coordinators. During this webinar a distinguished panel of state corrections directors, policy staff, and state reentry coordinators discussed the content of the checklists, as well as ways that state corrections administrators and their staff can use the checklists to bolster recidivism reduction efforts withi... Read More
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9 minutes + 37 pages
2013
Document preview
Building Bridges: LGBT Populations: A Dialogue on Advancing Opportunities for Recovery from Addictions and Mental Health Problems
By Goldstein, Irene Saunders. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (Rockville, MD).
“[D]espite some recent advances in understanding and acceptance, LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] individuals remain subject to the traumas of negative stereotyping, rejection, marginalization, and discrimination—all of which impede help-seeking behaviors. To compound the problem, LGBT individuals with mental health problems, addictions, or both, may experience additional forms of prejudice and discrimination related to each of those conditions … SAMHSA [Substance Abuse and Mental ... Read More

69 pages
2013
Document preview
Engaged Zen--Social Justice, Human Rights & Prison Links
Engaged Zen Foundation (EZF) (Sedgwick, ME).
A wide range of resources concerning correctional issues are provided at this website. Links are organized according to: prison research; prison rape; abuse by clergy; Zen Buddhism; military—draft and conscientious objection; Rominger Legal Resources and Research MiniFinder by state and federal district; prison related; death penalty related; department of “correction”; drug issues; political prisoners; anti-oppression; anti-racism; the Dalit people of India; the Romani people (gypsies); Native ... Read More

2012
Document preview
Thinking for a Change Begins in Community Classes
Washington State Dept. of Corrections (Olympia, WA).
“A group of offenders near Chehalis were Washington State's first Thinking for a Change participants in a community setting. The group, which completed classes in November 2012 and two Department of Corrections facilitators talk about the experience. In the course, a group of offenders participate in guided discussions and activities in a classroom setting. The program is based on the principle that that thinking controls how people act, and that to change the way people act, they have to take c... Read More

3 minutes
2012
Document preview
Can a Faith-Based Prison Reduce Recidivism
By Johnson, Byron R..
The use of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) in Texas prisons is evaluated. This program appears to be a promising strategy for promoting prosocial behavior. 'IFI is a Christ-centered, Bible-based prison program that supports and encourages inmates through a process of spiritual and moral transformation, which begins while they are incarcerated and continues after release' (p. 61). The program has three phases: two while in prison lasting 16-24 months and an aftercare phase of 6 to 12 mon... Read More
PDF
3 pages
2012
Document preview
Can a Faith-Based Prison Reduce Recidivism
By Johnson, Byron R..
The use of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) in Texas prisons is evaluated. This program appears to be a promising strategy for promoting prosocial behavior. 'IFI is a Christ-centered, Bible-based prison program that supports and encourages inmates through a process of spiritual and moral transformation, which begins while they are incarcerated and continues after release' (p. 61). The program has three phases: two while in prison lasting 16-24 months and an aftercare phase of 6 to 12 mon... Read More
PDF
3 pages
2012
Document preview
An Outcome Evaluation of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative
Minnesota Dept. of Corrections (St. Paul, MN).
Results from an outcome evaluation of the faith-based prisoner reentry program InnerChange Freedom Initiative are reviewed. Not only is the risk of participants recidivating significantly reduced (reoffending by 26%, reconviction by 35%, and new offence reincarceration by 40%), the program is also very cost-effective. “The findings suggest that faith-based correctional programs can work, but only if they apply what is known about effective correctional programming” (p. 3).... Read More
PDF
3 pages
2012
Document preview
Religion in Prisons: A 50-State Survey of Prison Chaplains
By Boddie, Stephanie C.; Funk, Cary. Annie E. Casey Foundation (Baltimore, MD); Pew Charitable Trusts (Washington, DC). Pew Research Center. Forum on Religion and Public Life (Washington, DC).
This report “presents a rare window into religion behind bars. Although chaplains, like all observers, undoubtedly bring their own perspectives and predilections to bear, they also occupy a valuable vantage point as correctional workers who have regular, often positive interactions with inmates and take a strong interest in the role of religion in inmates’ lives” (p. 9). Sections following an executive summary are: profile of state prison chaplains; what prison chaplains do and what they think t... Read More
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108 pages

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