Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Prisoners-Religious life-Texas, Social work with criminals, Criminals-Rehabilitation, Incarceration, Religion, Spirituality and social work


This qualitative study explored former prisoners' beliefs regarding the benefits of practicing spirituality or religion during their time of incarceration. The prison population is seldom included in mainstream research studies. Additionally, a personal relationship to religion and spirituality is a difficult phenomenon to quantify in a standardized and formulaic way. This research sought to explore if spirituality or religion can be considered a protective factor during a time of incarceration. This study was conducted with face-to-face interviews, using both demographic and narrative questions. A qualitative, flexible research method design was used to gather and analyze data from 13 former male inmates to allow them to fully express their interpretations of their faith practices during incarceration. There were a number of significant findings regarding the benefits of practicing spirituality or religion while incarcerated. Of note, all thirteen participants perceived that a relationship with "God" served as a protective factor during their time of incarceration. It is worth mentioning that although the term "God" was not used in the interview guide questions, all participants in this study referenced "God" during the course of the interview. Additionally, 100% of participants reported a mystical experience while incarcerated that they attributed to their personal faith.




iv, 60 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 48-50)