A Faith-based Prison Unit as a Community of Change: An Aotearoa New Zealand Case Study

By Franco Vaccarino and Margie Comrie.

Published by The International Journal of Community Diversity

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A prison community often has connotations of hopelessness and negativity, with individuals displaying undesirable attitudes and behaviours. Can anything positive emanate from prisons? Can a community of change be successful in transforming prisoners’ lives? A number of researchers see that religion offers the chance for prisoners to change, and a significant component of any faith-based prison unit is change – the willingness of prisoners to change. This paper investigates a faith-based unit in Aotearoa New Zealand to ascertain whether any changes had taken place in prisoners. Face-to-face, in-depth interviews were conducted with prisoners, chaplains, and others involved in the unit. From these interviews it is clear that this faith-based unit has been instrumental in assisting the prisoners to change; giving them the opportunity to reflect on their lives and their situation, and then make the necessary changes. Such developments included changes in attitude, taking responsibility for their actions, thinking things through before reacting, and managing anger and handling situations better. It appears that this close-knit community is a place for personal transformation and growth for prisoners who seized the opportunity to embrace change that will also assist them when released.

Keywords: Faith-based Prison Unit, Prisoners

The International Journal of Community Diversity, Volume 15, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.13-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 229.043KB).

Dr. Franco Vaccarino

Senior Lecturer, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand

Margie Comrie

Associate Professor, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand