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Thread: There are few or no laws to protect individuals from the stigma of prison and the discrimination they face. What are the advantages and disadvantages of faith-based prison reentry programs?

Replies: Provide a scriptural example in each reply and explain how it relates to your classmate’s thread. Two citations from the textbook and or scholarly resource may also be used.

1. Perez- The mission of faith-based organizations (FBOs) is to assist indigent criminals. Faith-based groups, in particular, may offer a wide variety of assistance, from emergency shelter to job training and even drug addiction treatment (Gideon & Sung, 2011)

Teen Challenge is a faith-based prevention and therapy program established in 1958 by David Wilkerson (Solomon et al., 2004). Teen Challenge has been visiting schools for over forty years to teach adolescents about the risks of drugs. Currently, around 150 Teen Challenge locations exist in the United States; 250 sites exist globally (Solomon et al., 2004). The programs operate on a local level and are customized to suit the unique requirements of the local community via a diverse array of services. Teen Challenge works with a diverse range of groups, including prisoners and ex-offenders. For instance, jail teams reach out to people in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers to show prisoners that it is possible to improve their lives (Solomon et al., 2004). Teen Challenge is the most heard program in Massachusetts that works with individuals released from prison or jail.

Historically, faith-based groups have benefited from government money received in 2001 from former President George Bush Jr. (Armstrong, 2014). The primary objective was to bolster the local groups established to serve the needs of residents, who, in this instance, would-be criminals (Armstrong, 2014). With the implementation of this new strategy came a slew of benefits and drawbacks.

Among the many advantages of faith-based jail re-entry programs are their cheap cost and the fact that they are entirely managed by volunteers, to name a few. As an added benefit, faith-based organizations offer housing, transportation, food, mental health therapy, life skills training, and clothing to both the offender and their family. As a care coordinator, I interact with several faith-based organizations. I often refer offenders to them since there are seldom any problems to deal with, just periodic paperwork to record and set the offender up for future help. Finally, research has indicated that participation in faith-based organizations may be beneficial in reducing recidivism (Gideon & Sung, 2011).

As mentioned in the topic, there are currently no laws protecting offenders from the stigma associated with incarceration and discrimination. Since a consequence, many offenders are hesitant to seek assistance from these faith-based organizations, as they are linked with the concept of criminality. Additionally, one disadvantage of faith-based groups is that they are not regulated and do not necessarily follow conventional strategies. Additional research is necessary to fully understand the advantages and downsides of faith-based reintegration programs (Gideon & Sung, 2011).

God’s word and many biblical passages stress the need to assist people in a predicament. A good example is in Hebrews 13:16 (English Standard Version Bible, 2001) “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” I think that we have been here on this earth to fulfill God’s mission, which involves, among other things, assisting everyone and refraining from forming assumptions about others.

References

Armstrong, R. (2014, November). Transforming rehabilitation: Can faith-communities help to reduce reoffending? Ideas for change | Centre for Crime and Justice Studies. https://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/PSJ%20216%20November%202014.pdf

English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles

Gideon, L., & Sung, H. (2011). Rethinking corrections: Rehabilitation, reentry, and reintegration. SAGE.

Solomon, A. L., Waul, M., Van Ness, A., & Travis, J. (2004). Outside the walls: A National snapshot of community-based prison reentry programs. Urban Institute | Social and Economic Policy Research. https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/57856/410911-Outside-the-Walls.PDF

2. Tillet- There are many advantages and disadvantages to faith-based religious prison programs in prisons that can benefit both the prisoner and society as a whole. One of the disadvantages that are found with faith-based religious programs is that they do not always align with or match all offenders and their beliefs (Camp et al., 2006). Attendance for these programs within the prison system may be low if they are not inclusive to the vast majority of the population and therefore are counter-productive (Camp et al., 2006). Having knowledge about the personality and beliefs of the offenders is necessary for these programs so they can review them and be productive in their selection process in which programs to include (Camp et al., 2006). Inmates may also feel ostracized within the prison system if they do not offer their preferred faith-based religion program and may therefore become negative towards the programs (Camp et al., 2006).

           There are a multitude of advantages to faith-based religious prison programs as well and since the 1800’s, prison programs have been mostly associated with faith due to the reformative efforts of the programs. In modern prisons, faith-based religious programs provide vital services that inmates need while incarcerated and also once they are released. Faith-based religious programs most often offer things such as in-house ministries, mentorship, traditional bible study groups, and release preparation. Although prisons cannot necessary protect individuals from the stigma and discrimination of society once they are released, faith-based religious programs can give offenders a community to belong to in society. Having the desire to participate in such programs can further assist an offender with their search of how to be a part of a community that is understanding of their plight and welcoming (Camp et al., 2006). “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matthew 25:36, ESV).

           Recognizing the disadvantages of past and current faith-based religious programs in prisons has assisted in building more all-inclusive programs (Daggett et al., 2008). Such programs as the Life Connections Program are made to focus on multi-faith offenders and creates a positive environment for their spiritual growth (Daggett et al., 2008). The intent behind programs like these are to promote behavioral change in the offenders (Daggett et al., 2008). Completion of the program is the intent, but the programs itself ensures that the offenders have the necessary tools to reenter society to include self-worth through discrimination and stigma (Daggett et al., 2008).

           Faith-based religious programs have the same goal as most all programs offered to individuals while they are in prison and that is to reduce the rate of recidivism (Dodson et al., 2011). The idea behind faith-based religious programs is that through religious organizations, offenders will see what led to and how to further avoid their deviant behaviors that landed them in prison (Dodson et al., 2011). Studies have shown that in most instances, faith-based religious programs work in reducing the recidivism rates and also assists the offender in establishing a community to be a part of (Dodson et al., 2011). The stigma that an offender faces from society may be difficult to overcome and inevitable due to the laws that exist, but allowing offenders to connect with individuals, understand their faith, and work through their misdeeds can make the process of their rehabilitation and reentry into society an easier adjustment (Dodson et al., 2011).

References

Camp, S. D., Klein-Saffran, J., Kwon, O., Daggett, D. M., & Joseph, V. (2006). An exploration into participation in a faith-based prison program. Criminology & Public Policy, 5(3), 529-550. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9133.2006.00387.x

Daggett, D. M., Camp, S. D., Kwon, O., Rosenmerkel, S. P., & Klein-Saffran, J. (2008). Faith-based correctional programming in federal prisons: Factors affecting program completion. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(7), 848-862. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854808317787

Dodson, K. D., Cabage, L. N., & Klenowski, P. M. (2011). An evidence-based assessment of faith-based programs: Do faith-based programs “work” to reduce recidivism? Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 50(6), 367-383. https://doi.org/10.1080/10509674.2011.582932

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