U.S. Department of Justice

Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in Corrections

Topics In the Library

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.

Recommended Reading

Date Title Type
2013
Document 027586
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
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13 pages
2012
Document 026714
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 026315
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
2008
Document 025220
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 022542
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 020820
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 021477
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
2015
Document 029899
Nation's Highest Court Weighs Correctional Security and Religious Freedom
By Schultz, Eric.
"On Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, the second day of the Supreme Court’s 2014 term, the justices heard oral arguments in the case of Holt v. Hobbs, with important implications for corrections. At question in the case was whether or not the Arkansas Department of Correction’s (ADC) no-beard policy violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and whether the half-inch beard requested by inmate Gregory Houston Holt sufficiently satisfies the department’s security goals" (p. 64... Read More

5 pages
2015
Document 030124
Rights of Rastafarian Employees and Inmates
Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE) Law Enforcement Legal Center (Chicago, IL).
"Rastafarians are named after Ras (Prince) Tafari, Selassie’s title before being crowned Emperor in 1930. The movement later was influenced by Jamaicans. There are estimates that there are as many as one million adherents to the religion worldwide. In the U.S., most adherents are African-Americans. Rastafarians engage in the spiritual use of cannabis, wear their hair in dreadlocks and are generally opposed to cutting their hair. The Ital vegetarian diet is one of the main tenets of the Rastafari... Read More

10 pages
2014
Document 028194
Religion in Corrections: Offenders' Rights, Your Responsibility [Internet Broadcast]
By Alpern, Laurence Aryeh; Brown, Betty; Hall, Stephen; Hill, Wayne; Klemm, Ulli; Kowalcyk, Launa M.; Kreger, Elizabeth; Saulsberry, Terry J.; Turner, Ronald G. . National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (Washington, DC).
Across the United States, chaplains and religious directors are overwhelmed with ensuring equitable consideration for all religious requests. They face the conflict of "myth versus reality" regarding the role of the chaplain/religious director in corrections, the priority of religious practice balanced with security concerns, inconsistencies in accommodation, bias in space considerations, increased need for special diets, and the effects of agency and facility budgets. This two-day live broad... Read More
VIDEO
285 minutes
2014
Document 029500
Resource Directory for Prisoners
SourcePoint Global Outreach. Naljor Prison Dharma Service (Santa Cruz, CA).
This is one of the very best resources for enabling inmates to connect with various outreach and personal growth services. These programs are organized into the following areas: Buddhist; Christian; Hindu and Yoga; further resources for psychological and spiritual transformation (ageless wisdom, interfaith, metaphysical, Native American, and psychology); legal support; free book resources; pen pal correspondence (Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, and non-religious); creative writing, artistic resourc... Read More
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2014
Document 029813
Religion in Corrections – National Institute of Corrections
By Turner, Ronald G.. DC Public Safety (Washington, DC).
"The program addresses religion in corrections, referred to as one of today’s hottest legal topics in corrections. Our guest was Ronald G. Turner, who has served as lead consultant on the topic for the National Institute of Corrections and a variety of organizations. During the show, he addresses the conflict between myth and reality in religious programming, shedding light on the concern of chaplains and religious directors about how to meet the safety and security needs of a facility while ens... Read More

30 minutes
2014
Document 031360
Are prisons really schools for terrorism? Challenging the rhetoric on prison radicalization
By Jones, Clarke R..
"When governments justify the necessity to segregate and/or isolate terrorist inmates from mainstream prisoners, they commonly raise concerns about their prisons becoming schools for terrorism. Yet, these concerns are often based on limited information about prisoner radicalization, potentially resulting in the mismanagement (both financially and psychologically) of terrorist inmates in many countries. This article challenges contemporary research on prison radicalization and recruitment by high... Read More

30 pages
2014
Document 028036
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
WEB
2014
Document 029522
Certified Religious Diet Specifications Quote Sheet – FY 2015
U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) (Washington, DC).
This is a great example of the specified ingredients for various types of kosher meals. This document contain sections covering; religious certification requirements for meals by accepted Orthodox kosher certification agencies; general meal specifications; and the exact diet specifications for 14 meals and 22 kosher items.... Read More
PDF
10 pages
2013
Document 027848
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
PDF
35 pages
2013
Document 027586
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
_blank
13 pages
2013
Document 030117
Intensive Vipassana Meditation Practice: An Intervention with Promise for Traumatized Prisoners
By Phillips, Jenny; Hopper, James W..
"Very few prisons have mental health treatment programs, and the few available, which range from educational to cognitive and behavioral in nature, do not have the capacity to treat chronic trauma and PTSD. The daily environment of prisons – aggressive and often violent, with any indication of vulnerability or weakness potentially life threatening – means such programs cannot fulfill the requirements of safe and effective trauma treatment, especially for processing and integrating memories … Si... Read More

26 pages
2013
Document 028460
Facts and Fictions about Islam in Prison: Assessing Prisoner Radicalization in Post-9/11 America
By SpearIt, ISPU Fellow. Chicago Community Trust and Affiliates. American Muslim Civic Engagement Fund (Chicago, IL). Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) (Washington, DC).
This report explains how violence due to prison radicalization by Muslims is a rare event. "This report assesses the radicalization of Muslim prisoners in post-9/11 America. In the last decade, Muslim prisoners have been scrutinized for ties to terrorist and other extremist organizations, not to mention characterized as both a “threat” and a “danger” to national security, due to the influence of foreign jihadist movements. However, closer scrutiny shows that these fears have failed to materializ... Read More
PDF
56 pages

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