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Islamic and Christian Conversion in Prison

November 26, 2014

My latest article Religious Conversion in Prison: Prosocial V. Antisocial Identities appears in the International Journal of Education and Social Science, Research Institute for Progression of Knowledge.

In this article “Prisoner transformation through religious conversion is a varied pathway where the reasons for seeking change, for selecting religion as a means of change, the selection of a helper, the religious group affiliated with and the effect of social, cultural and political factors create subtle distinctions in how one experiences conversion or not and if so, how transformation develops and proceeds toward anti- or pro-social outcomes.  Does this tell us anything that we may later quantify and statistically base predictions upon? In responding to this question there are seven points worthy of consideration.

First, religious conversion and transformation in identity is a “much nuanced pathway”.

Second, what is found in both religions is that there are many “forks in the road” during the conversion process and transforming identities. Forks were evidenced in both the inclusivist and exclusivist religious community identity and in the incorporationist and rejectionist worldview identity.

Third, the narratives evidenced that religion is just one alternative for gaining knowledge of self. Other alternatives are education, counseling, and gangs.

Fourth, in comparing Christian and Islamic participants it emerged that not all of either faith who experience religious conversion and become inclusivist or exclusivist and in both types there are both incorporationists and rejectionists. Of the 22 participants 2 coding exclusive and 2 coding inclusive were rejecting of society. Moreover of those coding both exclusive and rejecting one was Christian and one was Islamic. Most participants were cooperative toward larger society whether inclusive or exclusive in religious identity.

Fifth, in each religion no definitive process of radicalization emerged although one participant professing Islam and that coded exclusive/rejecting spoke of hate of white people and racism. And, in another case a professing Christian that coded exclusive/rejecting spoke of leading people in violent opposition to government.

Sixth, the four participants coded rejectionist used particular words related to specific concepts that disassociated and sanctified their anti-social behavior even in light of their profession of religion and spirituality.

Seventh, descriptive words and phrases may be operationalized in relation to concepts and scales created to quantify findings in future studies.

Policy Implications for Corrections and Directions for Research

This research establishes a model study for giving prisoners a voice in their transformation, it offers guidelines for study of religious conversion in prison, provides assistance to the correctional system and supports the professional and volunteer chaplaincy as part of an overall prison treatment program designed to help individuals seeking to change their lives pro-socially to do so, to desist from crime and thereby reduce their chances of returning to prison. Findings support a conclusion that isolating one religion as a radicalizing source unduly burdens free practice of religion and fails to recognize other religions have similar tendencies. As noted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (2008) restrictions on any non-Christian religion must not result in having their “free exercise” rights to practice religion unduly burdened by the state without a compelling interest.

Prison administrators, chaplains, psychologists, counselors are better equipped to understand how including religion or spirituality into correctional treatment assists desistance (stopping crime) and thereby helps prisoners help themselves not return to prison. It promotes a better understanding of how involving the felon in an active role will promote possible transformation to a pro-social member of society (Norcross & Wampold, 2010; Worthington, Hook, Davis, & McDaniel, 2010).

Importantly, the findings support the need for an interdisciplinary approach where treatment professionals and institutional administrators work holistically with religious services as part of an overall treatment program.  Simultaneously it speaks to the need for trained volunteers for all religious faiths served by the prison chaplaincy programs. It therefore provides support and direction for prison chaplaincy and volunteer programs and enhances chaplaincy as a correctional profession.

Syria Children and Oil

April 16, 2017

Folks awaken. Syrian children are no more important to the US Government than are the children of Gaza who are murdered by Israel’s indiscriminate bombing exercises otherwise called ‘mowing the grass”. What matters to the US and to Russia is the fact that Syria holds the primary legal rights to oil in the Black Sea and to the sea port that oversees export. This is all about keeping the Russian Government from the Vast Oil Reserves in the Black Sea. The Governments involved and the Mainstream Media are playing to propaganda pawn.

Nut, Burglar or Terrorist?

April 9, 2017

Nut, Terrorist or Burglar?….Or all three? Of course according to Mass Media were he A follower of Islam they would clearly say Terrorist and reduce the rest to a one sentence by-line. Regardless this person is the face of what is going wrong globally. People everywhere are tired and lost.  
They are lost because no one anymore knows where to look for factual, objective and logic driven answers and guidance to where we are and where we are headed. Everything is politically charged and set on polarized agenda(s).  
People globally are tired of abuse of human beings at the benefit of the less than 1% that truly make the decisions for the world and its many nations. Domhoff called these the Power Elite.  
Together the pressure of being tired of abuse has fed the Anomic loss in direction that our planet’s people are experiencing (Durkheim). This social strain fed by the powerful has institutionalized itself in virtually every aspect of daily life. Methods and avenues of human success as well as ultimate satisfaction of success coupled with an extremely Potent wave Nationalism is pointing us toward major upheavals in virtually every corner of our planet (Merton, Agnew). People have overwhelmingly in response to loss of direction come to exhibit one of two extremes. They either blindly seek humanistic altruism or conversely self centered egoism.
Blindly the mainstream appears to grasp to sanity however politicized campaigns about False media drives a wedge between logic and fear. In hopes of sanity and logic they blindly follow charismatic on each end of the political venue. They trust in promises of a Utopia much as mankind has always (Mannheim) and in doing so the the most charismatic and Media portrayed leader is saluted. The charismatic egomaniac distorts the truth through their power brokers and agents of authority. Feebly the citizen seeking comfort buys the story (Marx, Quinney). They either become the terrorist seeking the Divine Utopia, or the Roman Republic spreading the Utopian Secular and Democratic global society. Both are skewed in focus, both extreme and both creating needless suffering and death.  Nut, Burglar or Terrorist?

National Guard and Immigration Control: Trumps Wildcard

February 18, 2017

Concerns. This is technically a military action on domestic ground. What it means is that in a military state action the US Constitution and the Amendments are suspended due to emergency need. As such the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th Amendments to the U S Constitution which protect Citizens is set aside until the emergency is contained. These Amendments protect citizens from criminal accusations, holding, trial and punishment without Due Process. Under suspension these rights and protections are lost. Anyone citizen or not may be stopped, questioned, detained, arrested, held in arrest without charge, denied confrontation of witnesses, denied trial, and punished without ability to defend ones self or have an attorney do so for them. The US Constitution offers protection whereas people may not arbitrarily be stopped without Reasonable Suspicion. And then a stop and a minimal search for a weapon may follow. Before any further abrogation of the freedom of movement maybe restricted Law Enforcement must have elevated suspicion that the individual perpetrated or is perpetrating a crime. This level of suspicion is called Probable Cause to search and or arrest. In cases of military state action these levels of suspicion are null and voidable.  
Granted the military may offer those detained and arrested some of these protections, but it is no longer a guarantee. Also most likely citizens who initially could not prove citizenship to the requisite level would later be released after a stop, arrest or detention. However, the complications to daily life is incredibly interrupted. Anyone who has traveled abroad to countries like Israel, Russia, Turkey, Mexico and the like will appreciate military roadblocks and check point interrogations.  

Herbert Spencer

December 21, 2016

Herbert Spencer: Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.~ Herbert Spencer, The Ethics of Social Life: Justice

Seems to me that our age in history fails to consider that too much “individual” freedom leads to oppression of weaker individuals and groups of a society. Ironically the call for freedom and individualism tends to feed elitist attitudes of “difference”. Taken to the extreme this feeds ultimately a phase of conflict, fear and hate. Once this conflict begins it festers into a sore that inbreeds within the society which in turn becomes ripe for groups to rally and seek correction in the name of patriotism and nationalism; to call for a restoration of past histories, traditions and status. In short, it may support fascism. We should strive for “group” freedom which means individual desires may not be realized if costs are to high in terms of societal survival and the social well-being.

Religion in Prison

December 20, 2016

After several readings over several days I just knocked out an intriguing peer review of a proposed journal article today. It involves the Jewish perspective of criminology and the use of religion as part of an overall therapy technique by which imprisoned Offenders, that wish to, may transform their identity employing religion. This is central to my own research.  
While the article was highly theological (not a bad thing) and focused on Judaism I believe it offers much to consider by way of criminology. To the merit of the authors they propose that the focus on Judaism as a treatment for change is not unilateral, but only by example. Inclusively, from a secular and social perspective, traditional religions generically may be employed as both a social process and social structural means of support for pro social change in identity. 

I look forward to the publication of this article.

Zurich Shooter Berlin Shooter

December 20, 2016

First, I am not downplaying anything in regards to the wanton taking of another’s life. However, why isn’t the Zurich, Switzerland attack on a mosque getting the same news coverage as Berlin, Ankara or even Syria? Granted these are three different kinds of killings.  
The Ankara, Turkey assassination of the Russian Ambassador was political assassination. The Syrian situation clearly has elements of “war crime” which are similar to the indiscriminate and criminal tactics of the regime of Israel against the children, women, and aging of Gaza. Yet Israel remains unscathed by news reporting on these atrocities. Berlin distinctively appears terroristic, but then again so does the lone shooter that entered the Zurich mosque filled with worshippers. No media I have thus far predicted the religion, if any, of the Zurich shooter. Perhaps until they can safely report that the shooter was “Islamic looking” they will not give this event much coverage. This leaves me looking for a thread by which to seek to understand these reporting strategies.

Zurich, Switzerland

Inmate vs Prisoner: a case of Missed Identity

November 26, 2016

Voice, self expression and playing an active role is critical in reforming and transforming criminality as an identity. In my study with Prisoner Narratives I used the word ‘inmate’ because IRB insisted in the sterilized term. As I began with each interview I used the word inmate to refer to their status. All but one expressed the desire to be called ‘prisoner’ rather than inmate. I believe in giving marginalized populations ‘voice’.

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