Three years ago, the Florida Department of Corrections ( FDC ), Chaplaincy Services completed a report in which Florida Chaplains gathered information regarding inmate chapel attendance. Sufficient time has passed for an examination of that information. Many of the inmates in that study have been released from prison. Many remain in custody. This follow-up study to the 2002 report, “The Impact of Inmate Participation in Chaplaincy Programming” examines the initial group of inmates to determine whether the findings of improved behavior in those inmates who participated in Chaplaincy programs are sustained over the subsequent 3-year period. Additionally, the follow-up looks at the recommitment rate for inmates involved in the original study that have been released during the past 3 years. In the follow-up, a survey of inmates was also included. The survey of inmates seeks to provide information concerning inmate motivation for behavior changes.
The benefits realized by participation in religious programming are both personal and social. Inmates frequently provide subjective information concerning the positive impact of religious activity. They attribute restored relationships, improved behavior and a better perspective on life to participation in religious programming. When these changes are recorded as reduced recommitments for released offenders or reduced disciplinary reports for inmates, the societal impact is credible. Volunteer and professional faith-based workers believe that faith-based programming makes the institution where the participating inmates live, a safer place. Anecdotal information from institutional administration and security staff tends to support this claim. Though a variety of motives can be found among inmate religious programming participants, it is asserted that more inmates are motivated by genuine interests in change through personal piety. It is also believed that neighborhoods across the state become appreciably safer neighborhoods when offenders have participation in faith-based programming as part of their prison history. This follow-up report to the original study continues in the interest of providing data that addresses the short and long-term results of inmate participation in religious programming. This study does not attempt to answer every question, but provides this information as part of a growing body of data surrounding inmates and the impact of religious programming.
Chaplain Alex S. Taylor
Chaplaincy Services Administrator