The original data indicated two substantial findings: (1) Religious programming, activities and events are popular among inmates, and (2) the more an inmate attended religious programming in prisons, the fewer disciplinary reports the inmate received for improper behavior.
The follow-up study supports the findings of the original study and indicates that this improved behavior is not simply a short-term phenomenon but may be sustained for inmates for as much as three years. This report did not monitor whether or not the inmates continued to attend chapel programming while in prison or religious services upon release. Some of the inmates in the original study who attended chapel functions may no longer participate. The same reverse behavior may be true for the non-attendees of the original study. Current attendance or non-attendance was not measured. Consequently, the follow-up results are based on a snapshot of the inmates’ attendance pattern in 2001. The results are therefore noteworthy in that improved behavior for inmates remaining in prison and lower recommitment rate for released offenders can be affected by any involvement in chapel programming for at least three years following attendance. Improved behavior and lower recommitment rates are a cost reduction as well as a public safety benefit.
Additionally, the follow-up was able to include recommitment data for inmates that were measured in the original study and released during the following year. This data, though preliminary in nature, strongly implies that inmates who participate in religious programming do not come back to prison as frequently as inmates who do not participate. It further suggests that the more participation an inmate has in religious programming and activities while in prison, the lower the recommitment rate. Inmates who return to free society and do not commit new crimes benefit public safety.
Safer communities are a by-product of effective prison programming. When offenders are released to return to their neighborhoods, the amount of participation in religious programming and activities can be used as a predictor of successful reintegration to free society.There are certainly multiple factors that go into the motivation and behavior of inmates in prison One program or in-prison activity may impact the inmate with positive outcomes, but successful reintegration into society upon release is the result of numerous factors. Participation in Chaplaincy Services is a measurable factor that may predict the released inmate’s recommitment rate. This follow-up report indicates that a strong Chaplaincy Services program of religious services and activities may effectively contribute to public safety by lowering the disciplinary report rate, the disciplinary report average and the recommitment rate for participants. Prison operations and the communities that inmates are returned to are well served by an active chapel program. When inmates participate in chapel programming, the result is safer communities in and out of prison. This is an important public benefit.