Jews Behind Bars and the Influence of Jewish Communal Support on Reentry, Reintegration, and Desistance
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Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in communal social support and prison chaplaincy. Numerous studies evaluate the growing role of religion and spirituality in various preventive and rehabilitative initiatives (Giordano, Longmore, Schroeder, & Seffrin, 2008; O’Connor, Duncan, & Quillard, 2006) and a large proportion of prison chaplaincy studies are centered on the Christian community (Baier & Wright, 2001). Few, if any, studies explore how Jewish prison chaplaincy and Jewish communal support affect reentry and reintegration. In this study, 24 individuals (n=24) participated in qualitative interviews between July, 2018, and January, 2019. The population sample includes 6 Chabad Lubavitch chaplains from across the United States, 1 chaplain’s assistant from Israel, and 17 felony convicted individuals who were recipients of Jewish chaplaincy. Of the felony-convicted individuals, 13 are Jewish men, two are non-Jewish men, and two are Jewish women. I analyzed data using inductive and deductive coding strategies. Five major challenges faced by Jewish offenders during the incarceration-to-reentry process were identified; (1) employment, (2) mental health, (3) housing, (4) legal aid, and (5) anti-Semitism. Findings demonstrate that social support offered via the Jewish community and Jewish chaplaincy positively affected post-incarceration employment and mental health outcomes and provided more access to housing and legal aid. Anti-Semitic behaviors and policies affecting prisoners were moderated and, at times, corrected by Jewish chaplains.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Findings -- Conclusion -- Appendix A. Former Jewish inmate interview -- Appendix B. Prison chaplain interview -- Appendix C. Israeli chaplain’s assistant interview -- Appendix D. Operationalized key concepts
M.S. (Master of Science)