4 Finding Freedom in Confinement
other words, uninterrupted and regular church attendance may further insu-
late youth from crime and delinquency. Indeed, a number of studies find that
religion can help prevent high-­risk urban youth from engaging in delinquent
be­hav­ior (Freeman 1986; Johnson, Larson, Jang, & Li 2000a, 2000b). Simi-
larly, Wallace and Foreman (1998) found that youth who attend church fre-
quently are less likely to engage in a variety of harmful be­hav­iors, including
drug use, skipping school, fighting, and violent and nonviolent crimes. It is
not an exaggeration to state that youth exposure to religious and spiritual
activities can be a power­ful inhibitor of crime and youth vio­lence. ­ These find-
ings are consistent with other empirical evidence linking religiosity to reduc-
tions in criminal deviance among adults and young adults (Duwe & Johnson
2013; Evans, Cullen, Dunaway, & Burton 1995; Johnson 2011; Johnson &
Jang 2012; ; Kerley, Matthews, & Blanchard 2005).
The religion-­crime lit­er­a­ture has grown over the last several de­cades and
has benefited from publication of rigorous systematic reviews and several
meta-­analytic studies that utilize demanding methodological tools to evalu-
ate objectively the state of research in his area. Taken together, ­these review
studies confirm that increasing religiosity is associated with lower rates of
crime (Baier & Wright 2001; Johnson & Jang 2012; Johnson, Li, Larson, &
McCullough 2000; Kelly, Polanin, Jang, & Johnson 2015). Consequently, a sys-
tematic review of the lit­ er ­ a­ture confirms that religion ­ matters in consequen-
tial and beneficial ways when it comes to crime reduction (  Jang, Bader, &
Johnson 2008; Jang & Johnson 2005; Johnson, Jang, Li, & Larson 2001;
Ulmer, Desmond, Jang, & Johnson 2010), lower rates of recidivism for ex-­
prisoners (Duwe & Johnson 2013; Duwe & King 2013; Johnson 2002, 2004,
2011; Johnson & Larson 2003; Johnson, Larson & Pitts 1997; ), and in helping
alcohol and drug abusers to desist (  Johnson, Lee, Pagano, & Post 2016; Lee,
Pagano, Johnson, & Post 2016). Regardless of the sample, the data set utilized,
or other study differences, church attendance and religious experiences remain
impor­tant ­factors linked to lower levels of deviant be­hav­ior and higher levels
of prosocial be­hav­ior (  Johnson & Jang 2012; Kerley, Matthews, & Blanchard
2005; Lee, Pagano, Johnson, & Post 2016; Lee, Poloma, & Post 2013). Simply
put, we know that higher religiosity is consistently associated with less crime
and delinquency.
Why Faith ­Matters in Crime Reduction
To know that religion is linked to less crime is obviously impor­tant, but it
would be shortsighted to stop ­there. Research is needed to answer the more
difficult question of why religion ­ matters. Unfortunately, questions like the fol-
lowing rarely have been studied by scholars: Why are at-­risk youth from
disadvantaged communities who regularly attend church less likely to violate
the law? Why does religiosity or religiousness help reduce the likelihood of
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