Faith Important in the Lives of Many Arizona Inmates

February 15, 2006

Source: The Arizona Republic

On February 15, 2006 The Arizona Republic reported, "Although religious services have long been a staple of prison life, officials across the nation are beginning to realize just how important faith can be in rehabilitating inmates... In Arizona, prison religious programs have grown to unprecedented levels in the past two years as services have expanded to reach even the minority of inmates who don't practice the most mainstream religions. Monthly religious services have increased nearly 56 percent, and an estimated 9,000 inmates attend. Gone are the days when an inmate had to fit into one of five religions - Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish or Native American - to worship. Today at all the state's prisons, multifaith gatherings provide a weekly meeting time for inmates who are increasingly adhering to less common faiths like Wicca, Hinduism and Buddhism. In all, 60 religions are practiced by inmates. In addition, mentors work with inmates before their release and connect them to a faith community that will continue to offer friendship, spiritual guidance and help finding housing and jobs when they are back on the streets. Faith-based mentoring problems now are in place at three Arizona prisons, and a fourth is coming on board."