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Piety in Prison

An Enthnography of Religion in the Correctional Environment

Published by UMI Dissertation Information Service, 300 N.Zeeb Rd. Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Copyright 1992 by Harry R. Dammer. All Rights reserved. Order number 9227548.

The following is the abstract and table of contents from the author's dissertation written as partial requirement for the doctoral degree from Rutgers - The State University of NJ, Newark, 1992.

This dissertation employed participant observation and intensive interviews to describe the meaning of religion in the correctional setting. The research was conducted in two large maximum security prisons for men, located in the northeast United States, both with an active group of religious inmates.

From the participant observation phase, questions and theoretical propositions were developed for the intensive interviews. Global sorting was employed to develop the interview questions while purposive sampling was used to obtain a cross-section of participating and non-religious respondents.

The study produced two types of data: field notes and intensive interview transcripts. The field notes were developed into a descriptive ethnography about the two prison programs. The intensive interviews were analyzed using content analysis and the constant comparison method. They revealed four recurring themes: the process of becoming a religious inmate, the reasons why inmates become involved with religion, the lifestyle of the religious inmate, and the relationships integral to those involved with religion in prison.

The findings also suggest that there is variation in the way inmates act or respond to religious involvement while in prison. The inmates may be acting out one or any combination of five Religious Response Styles: "Sincere," "Trying," "Fronter," "Occasional," or "Monastic." Finally, a preliminary theory of the meaning of religion in the correctional environment is proposed.

TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR PIETY IN PRISON
By Harry R. Dammer, Ph.D.

Chapter Title / Subtopic
Page
CHAPTER 1:  INTRODUCTION
1
The Problem
1
Review of Literature
4
Conceptualization
15
CHAPTER 2:  METHOD AND ANALYSIS
25
Research Problems
25
Approach to Research Problems
25
Sample
31
Research Setting
35
Sources of Data
37
Participant Observation
37
Recording Field Notes
45
Intensive Interviews
48
Recording Intensive Interviews
55
Supplemental Information
58
Reliability and Validity of Data
58
Reliability and Validity of Participant Observation Data
60
Reliability and Validity of Intensive Interview Data
63
Phases of Data Collection
70
Data Analysis Procedures
72
CHAPTER 3:  RELIGIOUS PROGRAMS
79
Eastern and Western Prison
79
Religious Programs at Western
84
Catholic
91
Protestant
97
Muslim
103
Jewish
108
Supplemental Programs
110
Religious Programs at Eastern
114
Catholic
116
Protestant
117
CHAPTER 4:  RECURRING THEMES  
124
Presentation of Results
124
The Process of Becoming a Religious Inmate
126
Background
127
How Inmates First Become Involved with Religion 
132
Timing
137
The Reasons for Religious Involvement 
142
Sincere (Intrinsic) Reasons for Religious Involvement 
147
Insincere (Extrinsic) Reasons for Religious Involvement 
150
Protection 
151
Inmate Convergence 
159
Women Volunteers 
166
Prison Resources  
168
The Lifestyle of the Religious Inmate
190
Determination of Sincerity
191
Actions
193
Actions Avoided
198
The Relationships Important to the Religious Inmate
207
Chaplain--Religious Inmate
208
Religious Inmate--Religious Inmate
217
Religious Inmate--Correctional  Officer
221
Religious Inmate--Non-Religious Inmate
228
Religious Inmate--Volunteer
229
Religious Response Styles
235
The "Sincere" 
238
The "Fronter" 
240
The "Trying" 
241
The "Occasional"
243
The "Monastic" 
245
CHAPTER 5:  TOWARDS A THEORY OF THE MEANING OF RELIGION IN THE CORRECTIONAL ENVIRONMENT
249
CHAPTER 6: IMPLICATIONS, SUMMARY, AND CONCLUSIONS
269
Implications of the Dissertation 
269
Summary and Recommendations for  Future Research
291
APPENDICES
294
BIBLIOGRAPHY
307