Religious Beliefs and Public Support for Prisoner Reentry


The sustainability of the modern prisoner reentry movement may rest heavily upon public support. Although little is known about how public opinion toward reentry is shaped, religion is potentially a key contributor. Several studies indicate that religious perspectives affect public attitudes toward punishment and rehabilitation. The current study aims to determine whether religious beliefs contribute to support for or opposition against three distinct approaches to prisoner reentry. Using survey data obtained from a randomly selected sample of a nationally representative Midwestern state, multivariate regression models were used to examine whether feelings of religious forgiveness and belief in a punitive God affected attitudes toward transitional programming, transitional housing, and assisting post-release offenders through housing agencies. Respondents who felt greater religious forgiveness and had less belief in a punitive God more strongly supported transitional programming and transitional housing and expressed greater opposition to denying housing assistance for recently released offenders. Both advocates and opponents of reentry initiatives should consider religious beliefs when attempting to gain support for their respective positions.


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Document Type





religion, prisoner reentry, public opinion, correctional policy

Publication Date


Journal Title

Criminal Justice Policy Review