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Religions 2018, 9(6), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060171

Women’s Engagement with Humanist, Spiritual and Religious Meaning-Making in Prison: A Longitudinal Study of Its Impact on Recidivism

1
Oregon Department of Corrections, Salem, OR 97301-4667, USA
2
Faculty of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8554, USA
3
Independent Correctional Consultant, Tom O’Connor, 1420 Court St. NE., Salem, OR 97301, USA
4
Transforming Corrections, Steve Hall 84A Vale Road, St Heliers, Auckland 1071, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 20 April 2018 / Revised: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 22 May 2018 / Published: 25 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Crime: Theory, Research, and Practice)
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Abstract

This study explores the long-term impact on recidivism of the engagement of over 300 women prisoners with humanist, spiritual and religious ways of making meaning during their incarceration. Prison chaplains and community volunteers in the Oregon Department of Corrections offered a diverse range of humanist, spiritual and religious (HSR) events to the women, and 95% of them voluntarily engaged at varied levels with an average participation rate of about 3 h per month. The women who attended most often were motivated to do so by intrinsic or meaning-driven reasons and were more likely to have listened to a religious program on radio or TV in the six months before their incarceration. Controlling for ethnicity, risk of recidivism, participation in other programs (education, substance use, cognitive and work), length of time incarcerated, and infractions during incarceration we found an overall significantly positive impact of HSR involvement on recidivism during the first year after release and over a 13-year follow-up period post prison. The impact was concentrated among the 20% of women who attended most frequently (4 or more hours per month) indicating a dosage and consistency of practice effect. Prison chaplains and volunteers make a valuable contribution to the lives of women in prison and to the correctional system; the pro-social support/modeling and diverse help with meaning-making they offer in prison has a positive influence on the women’s journey of desistance in the community after prison. View Full-Text
Keywords: women; prison; humanism; spirituality; religion; chaplain; volunteer; meaning; desistance; recidivism women; prison; humanism; spirituality; religion; chaplain; volunteer; meaning; desistance; recidivism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Duncan, J.; Stansfield, R.; Hall, S.; O’Connor, T. Women’s Engagement with Humanist, Spiritual and Religious Meaning-Making in Prison: A Longitudinal Study of Its Impact on Recidivism. Religions 2018, 9, 171.

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