On the Relationship Between Inmates' Religiosity, Treatment Engagement, and Anticipated Reentry Success

Open Access
Tilton, Emma
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Derek Allen Kreager, Thesis Supervisor
  • Stacy Silver, Honors Advisor
  • Criminology
  • Prison
  • Inmates
  • Rehabilitation
  • Religion
  • Treatment Engagement
  • Reentry
  • Social Control
Religion and religiosity have been identified as prosocial influences in rehabilitation and reentry processes, providing elements of social control that encourage desistance during the life-course events of incarceration and reentry. However, the strength of the influence of religion on treatment engagement in rehabilitation programs and on reentry success is uncertain, and the reasons why some inmates turn toward religion in reentry have yet to be fully investigated. Data from the Therapeutic Community Prison Inmate Network Study captures self-reported information on experiences in prison and in the TC as well as predictions of sobriety in reentry. In this thesis, I used this data to investigate 1) how religiosity in prison relates to inmates' level of treatment engagement and 2) how religiosity in prison relates to inmate perceptions of their ability to have a successful reentry. The two relationships are statistically significant in bivariate analyses, but lose significance when the control variables of race, age, and number of children are included in the multivariate analyses. The qualitative interview data also point to the importance of these background variables in the subjective expectations of post-release success. It appears that only certain subgroups within the prison unit (i.e., Blacks, older, and with children) tend to turn toward religion when looking toward a positive reentry process. Thematic analysis of the qualitative interview data reveals that religion was most often found helpful when it contributed to elements of social control.