Much has changed since 2001 when I began studying the contours of religion
in prison and the potential impact of faith-­based prison programs. At that time
the lit­ er ­ a ­ ture was quite limited, and I noted three issues. First, ­ there ­ were only
a handful of data-­driven studies, and many of ­ those ­ were based on small and
nonrepresentative samples. Second, ­there was a narrow range of inquiry in
that nearly all studies ­ were of Protestant inmates and Protestant programs and
nearly all ­ were conducted in the United States. Third, and the greatest concern
for me, was that most studies considered “evaluations” of faith-­based pro-
grams ­were conducted or funded by the ministry providers themselves.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and we now have several data-­driven mono-
graphs on religion in prison, dozens of data-­driven research articles in
respectable journals, and dozens of pre­sen­ta­tions at regional and national
conferences. ­Those publications and pre­sen­ta­tions have been much more
diverse in terms of research methodologies, faith traditions studied, and
the location of studies. What is still missing, however, is an edited volume
that brings together the past, pres­ent, and ­future of research on religion in
correctional contexts. In this volume, Finding Freedom in Confinement: The
Role of Religion in Prison Life, we provide this missing ele­ment. This volume
is uniquely interdisciplinary and international in scope as it includes data-­
driven (quantitative and qualitative), conceptual, and policy-­oriented exami-
nations of religion in correctional contexts around the world. This volume
moves the discussion of religion in prison away from popu­lar discourse, advo-
cacy works, and media stories that prioritize emotion over empirical verifica-
tion and sensation over science. Readers ­will be able to move beyond a strictly
emotional understanding of faith, and ­toward a more scientific understand-
ing of how prisoners use faith in everyday life.
Kent R. Kerley
University of Texas at Arlington
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