Faith Moves Mountains and Sometimes Reduces Recidivism: Community Chaplaincy and Criminal Justice Re-Formation in England and Wales

Published 14/12/2011
Type Article
Author(s) Dr. Philip Whitehead
Corresponding Authors Dr. Philip Whitehead, Reader in Criminal and Social Justice, School of Social Sciences & Law, Teesside University

A renewal of interest is currently underway in the instrumental efficacy of religion to reduce recidivism to which the relatively new phenomenon of community chaplaincy that supports prisoners on release from custody is expected to contribute. After reviewing some evidence on the relationship between religion and recidivism that deserves critical respect, it is argued that the distinctive contribution of community chaplaincy to criminal justice re-formation should have two main features. The first is to provide supportive relationships within a pro-social context to people leaving prison, and the second is to draw attention to the unpropitious economic environment into which they will be released. Both features define the moral rather than instrumental obligation of community chaplaincy to ex-prisoners beyond the gate within the proposed payment by results culture.