Essay: Faith-Based Reentry Programs Corrections

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[. . .] CEO showed statistically significant success in lowering participant conviction rates. "After two years, the intervention group had a conviction rate of 30.5%, compared to the 38.3% conviction rate for the control group -- a statistically significant difference of 7.7%" (Muhlhausen 2010). But this difference in conviction rates was attributed to the fact that the intervention group tended to consist of more hardened criminals, versus the control group which was more likely to be convicted of misdemeanors and not felonies. Even so, "after two years, the intervention group was less likely to be incarcerated in jail or prison. The intervention group had a reincarceration rate of 49.5%, compared to the 55.4% reincarceration rate for the control group -- a statistically significant difference of 5.9%" (Muhlhausen 2010).

Other non-faith-based reentry programs which have shown promise include the Boston Reentry Initiative, "an interagency initiative designed to help move violent adult offenders released from jail back to their neighborhoods. Through multiple agencies, BRI uses mentoring, social service assistance, vocational training, and education to help offenders reintegrate into society" and the focus on the program is upon high-risk offenders, versus offenders who are flagged as more amenable to treatment (Muhlhausen 2010). The designers of the quasi-evaluative study measuring the effectiveness of the BRI found that even though the control group was not truly a control group in the sense that it contained fewer 'high risk' offender, BRI participants still showed "statistically significant reductions of 30% in overall and violent arrest rates" (Muhlhausen 2010).

Faith vs. secular: What is better? Does it matter?

The comparable success of these secular programs indicates that a faith-based component is not a necessary component of a reentry program. However, a scientific comparison of different types of programs is really not possible, given that reentry programs across the nation, both faith-based and non-faith-based encompass a wide variety of different types of inmates with varied backgrounds. All programs have different emphases: some on job training while others on education (although faith-based programs usually place a greater emphasis on 'morals' education as well as general psychological counseling). Some form of intervention seems to be superior to no intervention at all but it is unclear if the faith-based aspect is what provides the value or the reentry program itself.

However, even if a faith-based component is not necessary, it could be argued that the benefits of the program outweigh the risk that prisoners will not have any reentry support at all. Cash-strapped federal prison systems often cannot provide a uniform system of secular support themselves, other than standard parole programs, and private agencies and initiatives provide needed support. Some of these private programs are religiously based, some are not. Since its implementation, the Act "has won praise from both conservatives and liberals, partly because it avoids taking more controversial measures to reduce prison populations, such as relaxing sentencing laws or releasing inmates early to ease overcrowding" (Gramlich 2008). The Act can "help cut jail and prison populations by providing more resources to inmates who return to society and are at risk of committing new crimes" (Gramlich 2008). Funding only secular programs could deprive prisoners of needed social support.


More study is needed to compare the potentially different, lasting impact of faith-based vs. secular reentry programs, although a completely scientific comparison of unlike programs would prove difficult. However, the evidence does indicate that faith-based programs, provided they include other counseling services, are reasonably ecumenical in their design, and do not discriminate based upon religion, can provide benefits to prisoners. In light of the challenges prisoners must face re-orienting into society and the current scarcity of resources for rehabilitation, continuing to support the Act seems prudent.


Gramlich, J. (2008). States want Second Chance Act funded. Stateline. Retrieved from:

PEW Charitable Trust.

Muhlhausen, D. (2010). The Second Chance Act: more evaluations of effectiveness needed.

Delivered before the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate. Retrieved from:

An outcome exploration of the InnerChange Initiative. (2012). Minnesota Department of Corrections. Retrieved from:… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Faith-Based Reentry Programs Corrections.  (2013, September 25).  Retrieved June 16, 2019, from

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"Faith-Based Reentry Programs Corrections."  25 September 2013.  Web.  16 June 2019. <>.

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"Faith-Based Reentry Programs Corrections."  September 25, 2013.  Accessed June 16, 2019.