Coping With Christ: The Effects of Religious Conversion on Inmates' Coping Abilities

Kent R. Kerley, Mississippi State University

How inmates cope with incarceration has long been an intriguing area of research for criminologists. This area of inquiry has received increased attention in recent years. Investigators have delineated several key individual and structural variables that appear to predict the likelihood of adjusting to prison and co- existing with other inmates and staff. In this study, I contribute to the literature by focusing on how religious conversion while in prison affects the coping mechanisms of inmates. Specifically, in- depth interviews were conducted with 30 inmates in Mississippi's largest public prison who reported a conversion experience as a result of participation in Operation Starting Line, a national evangelical prison ministry program. The interviews uncovered both positive and negative effects on the ability of newly converted inmates to successfully cope with the structure and rituals of prison, as well as interaction with other inmates and staff.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006