Religion In Prisons
Studies show approximately 95% of inmates will be released from prison, back into
society (Gibbons & Katzenbach 2006). In addition, more than half of all prisoners serve sentences fewer than three years (Thomas, & Zaitow, 2006). Noting these facts, incorporating the benefits of religious observance, coping skills and self-improvement becomes increasingly important to the inmate population, as well as society at large. At this juncture, little research has been conducted, solely on female inmates and the meaning of religious observance. Essentially no studies have been published in the United States with respect to Jewish inmates; much less, Jewish female inmates and the benefits of religious observance.
In the interests …show more content…
Even fewer studies have involved religious practice and female inmates. While both prison and religion have been subjected to considerable independent study, little has been found about religion in prison with respect to offenders’ psychological adjustment to incarceration or a decrease in behavior infractions (Clear & Sumpter, 2002). There is a literature gap, to say the least when looking at the impact of religious faith and its effect on incarcerated females.
Not related specifically to incarcerated populations, Jacobs asserts it can be argued that “religiosity can prevent and/or attenuate cognitively and affectively, the negative effects of guilt and/or shame directly” by supplying believers with a sense of meaning, enhancing self-esteem and providing a sense of control (Jacobs, 1992). Also not specific to incarcerated persons, but relevant to the study of religious practice and it’s benefits, Ellison examined the many-sided relationships between religious involvement and subjective well- being. He notes that religion may enhance individuals in at least four ways. These areas …show more content…
While not categorized as classical religious services, Skolnicki (1996) points to the similarities between religious affiliations and twelve step programs. Skolnicki (1996) goes on to note the following similarities; "a longing for faith, a sense of rescue by a higher power, a supportive and close-knit community, ritual renewal, and a format that promises social reinforcement upon release from incarceration". Clear and Sumter (2002) found inmates who acknowledged belief in a higher power alone, reduced the likelihood of engaging in arguments with other inmates or staff by almost seventy percent. Today’s prison ministries play a crucial role in the management of prisoners, as well as inspiration for renewal upon release. Thomas & Zaitow (2006) assert simply "The challenge is to bring hope and light into the darkness". Studies have consistently indicated the more religious services, classes or sessions an inmate attended, the fewer infractions for poor behavior they received. (O 'Connor & Perreyclear, 2002), (Hall, 2003). These studies indicate engagement in communal religious observance may also assist as a behavioral management tool for inmates, with less time and resources having to be devoted to these issues by correctional staff. These inmates, in addition to fewer infractions, also displayed increased motivation to change (Daggett, et al.,