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What are the issues with faith-based programs?

With the increasing number of women joining the correctional supervision, there is emerging awareness that the female offenders do show different issues that do not relate with their female counterparts. Thus, it is crucial to address the important aspect of gender regarding program delivery and designing. The faith-based programs are essential in reducing the rate of recidivism and prison entry among female offenders. Thus, they should be designed within the context of gender-responsive programming that is effective for women. Through the use of the pathway theory, it is possible to develop an effective, responsive programming on gender for women. The pathway theory for the criminality of women is an essential element that needs consideration when designing women’s services and treatment that addresses issues like the culture/ environment of the program, theoretical foundation and staff competencies, reentry issues, treatment modalities, and collaboration.

The societal response to sensualized deviant behavior such as addiction problems form part of the general scientific and socio-cultural belief system. Thus, it poses the question on whether the question of the spirituality and religion role in the change process from deviant behavior mirrors the role of religion in the society at large.  The government of the U.S has placed more importance on the faith-based programs as being a necessary aspect in helping inmates in the recovery process. With almost 7000n offenders being released from prisons each year, policymakers and the practitioners of criminal justice are in many ways returning and advocating for the use of the faith-based community to assist in meeting the various needs of returning prisoners. Though many of the faith-based programs have been of great help to the disadvantaged such as prisoners, there are few studies that have looked into the effectiveness of the efforts of faith-based organizations in improving the reentry of prisoners and the reduction of recidivism (Duwe & Johnson, 2013).

Also minimal studies have managed to identify the distinguishing characteristics of these faith-based programs (Duwe & Johnson, 2013). Usually in these faith-based programs, women and girls needs are underserved yet these inmates need an environment and opportunities where they can discover their gifts and skills and grow alongside developing a positive sense of the self. Research indicates that the problem of drug addiction among females involves a multi-dimensional issue that involves complex psychosocial and environmental challenges. Addiction is a small piece of a large fabric of issues such as the woman’s social, political, economic, and cultural forces and individual background that come together in shaping the context of a woman’s life.

Recent studies have confirmed that there is an existence of gender differences among women and men who abuse drugs and tend to have severe social and family problems alongside a lack of family support when joining treatment (Johnson (2011). Thus, gender difference, in essence, is a critical consideration for developing programs that help women with substance abuse problems. Unfortunately, the faith-based programs are among the available services for women in correctional supervision that are rarely designed to fit the specific needs of women. These are especially those with addiction problems among other socially deviant behavior. Thus it is essential to ensure that these programs are designed to fit a multidimensional perspective by having an increased sensitivity to the needs of women that will ensure the long-term effectiveness of these faith-based programs.

Available studies show that engaging in religious activities and faith helps in reducing deviant and criminal behavior. Studies overwhelmingly show that crime and religion among the adolescent population, but there are few studies on adult offending populations, particularly among the female offenders. The study by Johnson (2011) shows how religion has inverse relationships with acts of crime and deviant behavior. His study is, therefore, an essential one in understanding the issues of the relationship between adult offending or the entire rehabilitating population and religion. With the existing gap in the literature, it is still right to note that religion and faith involvement or spirituality can provide an appropriate environment to assists individual’s convicted of crimes especially women back to their community. A faith environment can act as a mechanism for change maintenance and a catalyst for change. Distances may happen over a period that involves the social, psychological and environmental mechanisms (Göbbels et al., 2014).

The environmental mechanisms have a potential role in allowing interplay of both the social and psychological mechanisms. Most importantly it is essential to contextualize the proportions in a formal process of risks managements. The study by Johnson (2011) supports the idea that spirituality and religion have value in supporting the resistance process. In that, the religious community acts as a powerful hook for change by being a catalyst for the cognitive transformation necessary for long-term change to one’s behavior. For instance, the program will give female offenders a chance for moral meditation whereby they can re-invent a new identity by being exposed to new ways of viewing the world and thinking. Various faith groups encourage followers to reinvent their personal narratives and assist individuals to go through their regressions of the past. It is through enabling them to acknowledge their guilt and move ahead in embracing a new life of holiness rather than being stuck by their shame (Göbbels et al., 2012). thus, the faith-based program are essential in allowing the female offenders to have an opportunity of giving back to the society, make amends to their actions and advocate on others behalf.

In designing the faith-based programs, it is useful to include a coherent description of female offenders and elements in her world as part of the ongoing process. The process can be how she transforms from a single component such as a detention center or jail and enters another one such as a day reporting programs. These components have to coordinate with one another to show the rehabilitation intervention strategies for the effectiveness of the faith-based program. The translation of this theoretical perspective to form a viable program that caters to the rehabilitative needs of female offenders requires inter and interagency and broad-based approach guided by distinctive practices and policies. It is because the female offenders are the common caseloads of human service providers when getting involved in the justice system. However, the efforts to change the behavioral repertoires of the offender call for treatment and services provided by the noncriminal justice organizations such as the faith-based organizations.


Duwe, G., & Johnson, B. R. (2013). the benefits of a faith-based correction program. International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, 2(1), 227–239

Jonson, B. (2011). More God less Crime.  Why faith matters and how it could matter more.  PA, Templeton Foundation Press.

Göbbels, S., Ward, T., & Willis, G. M. (2012). An integrative theory of resistance from sex offending. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(5), 453–462.

Göbbels, S., Willis, G. M., & Ward, T. (2014). Current re-entry practices in sex offender treatment programs: Distance is facilitating or hindering? Journal of Sexual Aggression, 20(3),

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