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By George Cornell, AP Religion Writer (Edited from The Wilson Daily Times, December 1, 1990)
Prisoners who come under religious influ-
The findings of the first-
“The results are phenomenal,” said John Gartner of Baltimore, a clinical psycholo-
It was found that prisoners who received religious instruction while in prison had a lower rate of recidivism -
Results show that religion “may be a pow-
“Researchers usually ignore religion,” Gart-
Considering the extent of prison ministries, the report said, “it is ironic that religious factors have been largely ignored” in studies on factors that might affect a prisoner’s chances for successful rehabili-
While results of the new study were posi-
The group’s study involved 190 prisoners who between 1975 & 1979 had taken part in Christian discipleship training, and a similar number who had not. The inmates involved were matched by age, race, gender & other factors. Both groups had been released from prison eight to fourteen years prior to the study.
It found that the religion-
The religiously trained group also had a longer crime-
The recidivism rate for women who took religious training was even lower, only 19 percent, compared to 47 percent among the control group of women. Among men only, the difference was only seven points.
The study is the first part of a three-
Findings of the first study demonstrate that the “potentially beneficial relationship be-
The few other studies that touched on religion noted only denominational vari-
“No one before had ever looked at the effect of religion on recidivism,” Gartner said. “I find that quite amazing.”
Copyrighted by the Associated Press and used with their permission.
A recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has revealed some start-
Last year alone the prison population expanded by about 55,900 inmates, reaching a record 1,182,000 at year’s end. By late 1996, state prisons, which hold the majority of convicts, were operating 16% to 24% over their capacity. Federal prisons were even worse, with a rate of 25%!
Therefore, despite construction of many new facilities, overcrowding is still a persistent dilemma. It is also very danger-
Not surprisingly, this results in making convict escapes easier. It can also cause riots which result in bloodshed and hostage taking. And overcrowding also leads to the early release of dangerous criminals who frequently commit new offenses!
As a result, tax money that could have been for better schools, hospitals, parks, and libraries is spent on law enforcement, court costs, incarceration, and the other expenses involved in crime prevention.
For example, in fiscal 1992, Federal, State, and local governments spent $94 billion for civil and criminal justice, a 59% increase over 1987. In the same year, State and local governments combined spent 85.5% of all justice dollars; the Federal Government spent the rest.
Recidivism also clogs up the courts, caus-
This increases the likelihood of serious mistakes in the handling of evidence. All of this creates a general tension & dissatisfac-
In fact, one of the primary causes of over-
Although admissions are still rising, sta-
There’s also an alarming trend. The highest rate of recidivism, 46.5%, takes place among juveniles under the age of eighteen! Of this group, 10.4% are returned to prison for homicide, 18.8% for robbery, and 13% for assault.
New York is about average for the nation with a recidivism rate of 30.7%. California has the highest with 54.4% and Texas has a recidivism rate of 45.7%.
However, despite the dismal reality of government statistics, we at Bible Believers Fellowship, Inc. have a far more positive view, for we see what works, and what doesn’t. It is assumed that the criminal commits crime due to some social dysfunc-
Yet it is our contention that the offender does not have a problem with his mind, he has a problem with his heart. It is that part of his being, his very soul, that we strive to reach as we minister in the name of Jesus Christ in prisons nationwide.
A report that was prepared by the Family Research Council, and written by Robert L. Maginnis, appeared on the Internet. It quoted Todd Clear, a Rutgers University criminologist, who stated, “Religious pro-
A 1992 Rutgers University study was also sited. It found that inmates often seek God to cope with inmate life, which is marked by depression, guilt, and self-
Todd Clear, who did the research, found that highly religious inmates have lower rates of depression and commit fewer disciplinary infractions than other inmates.
This was confirmed by Charles Adkins, who is also quoted in the report. Adkins, an Indiana state prison official, says that religion is one of several rehabilitation avenues, but it’s the only approach that addresses the root problem, a moral crisis inside the inmate.