Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Person on the Street" Audioboo

A non-expert comments on my research on the criminology and religion dialogue. (This person prefers not to have his picture published here).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Despite Little Emphasis, Faith-Based Programs in Prisons Continue to Grow

One example of a faith-based program:
Bible study group
(Image credit: Worldmag.com)
As of now, marginal research exists into the connection between faith-based programs and rehabilitation. However, more and more have correctional administrators been looking to faith-based programs to rehabilitate people in jail for various crimes. In Faith-Based Prison Programs by Melvina Sumter and Criminology and Religion: The Shape of anAuthentic Dialogue by Thomas O’Connor, Jeff Duncan, and Frank Quillard, they explain that even though no explicit conclusions can be drawn yet about the connection between religion and correctional rehabilitation, and only few studies have been conducted in this field and are said to be relatively weak, religious programs do have some effect.

Besides for there being little research, the studies that do exist have some issues, and make faith-based programs hard to measure. The studies have many sides to them and different researchers can interpret them differently. For the most part, the studies ignore random sampling, don’t take into account causality and statistical examinations, don’t control for enough religious factors, and don’t account for the many classifications of religion.

Even though there are limited and weak studies, faith-based programming may in fact help in rehabilitation to some degree.

“Research indicates that high levels of involvement in religious activities lead to…reductions in juvenile delinquency, and reductions in prison misconduct while incarcerated. However, there is little published research evaluating the effectiveness of faith-based organizations, programs or initiatives.”

Still, what existing studies have done is they have helped us learn more about how religion has impacted prisoners. As Sumter explains, besides for lessening criminal behavior, the role of religion is to also deter what could eventually be a greater decline in the humanity of the prisoners. Furthermore, it helps them deal with the deprivation challenges that exist in the prison setting (i.e. family, overall autonomy, etc.). The prisoners want to feel safe and have some way of connecting with outsiders. 

One big benefit to these religious programs is that they are relatively cheap.

Brendan D. Dooley, Professor in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Maryland, discusses this:

Records from 2005 give one good example of this: O'Connor discusses how the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) paid just about $230 for each individual frequently partaking in those religious services that year. The ODOC managed to keep it at this low cost by bringing in fewer people on staff, so that they’d only have 22 chaplains, as well as 7 volunteers/other staff to help the chaplains. 

Taking into account the various types of programming, religious programs account for some of the most in our prison system.

Nearly all U.S. prisons have chaplains who support prisoners in practicing their religion. O'Connor describes that there are also people who volunteer and help the chaplains in the prison, giving about 250,000 hours of their time every year. There are traditional religious services in the prison, as well as direct services offered. Services for a large variety of religions are offered, from Jewish to Protestant to Catholic to more. Because these religious volunteers are said to be particularly well off in terms of work, education, religion, etc., the prisoners may also learn to be successful by working together with these staff members. This could help prevent relapses into crime.  

Besides for traditional religious services, more immersive/in-depth programs are now being emphasized as well, such as biblical teaching groups (or one-on-one learning) and support groups. Various staff, just as in traditional services, guide these more complete religious programs. However, the difference is that the more in-depth programs have a more specific goal to help lessen recidivism.

One example of a more immersive program is the Life Connections Program (LCP).

Sumter explains that the LCP is “an 18-month, residential faith-based program established by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2002.” It’s a program known for attracting prisoners from a whole variety of faiths. People more likely to partake in the LCP are those who are still trying to discover their faith and path in religion, rather than those who already have established, set-in-stone religious beliefs. It’s also known to attract people who attend religious services more often and have a high desire to change the way their living. LCP’s goal is to help people get back into their community.

Overall, faith-based programs are somewhat effective.

As Dooley says, “ Most of the evidence suggests that they are marginally effective. So what that means is there is a slight indication that is has a consistent impact, but it’s not really that pronounced. It’s not enormous benefit, but it is a bit of a benefit.”

Here's what one individual, who's not as familiar with the role of faith-based programs in prisons, has to say about the subject:

Why I Chose My Research Project Topic

Friday, November 16, 2012

Good Ways to Stay Connected: iPhone and Blogging

Both videos discuss communication benefits (the top video discusses this in terms of the iPhone and the bottom one discusses this in terms of blogging).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Understanding the Benefits of Technology

The first interview is about why this person would find having an iPad beneficial in terms of the entertainment that the device would bring. The second interview is about why a different individual views a course that blends class meetings with technology as very useful/very advantageous in terms of more visualization of the information and combining different multimedia.