Criminal rehabilitation : the impact of religious programming
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In spite of their prevalence in correctional institutions, religious programs have been the subject of limited independent assessment. The purpose of the current study was to examine the outcomes of the Kairos Short Course, a Christian religious course offered to prison inmates that aims to engage participants in examination and meditation on their experiences, as well as the fostering of skills such as forgiveness and empathic responsiveness. A sample of 38 inmates (20 assigned to attend the Kairos Short Course and 18 serving as a waiting-list comparison) at a medium security prison participated in the evaluation and were assessed prior to and following completion of the Course on measures of criminal thinking, empathy, self reflection, treatment readiness, and forgiveness of self and others. No clear evidence of change on any of these measures was found. These results are of interest in the context of the growing need for service providers to demonstrate that their programs are evidence-based and contribute to the community safety goals of most correctional agencies. It is concluded that such results should temper some of the more enthusiastic claims of some providers of religious programs to prisoners that such programs are successful in rehabilitating large numbers of offenders.