All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Kent R Kerley

Advisory Committee Members

Heith Copes

Mark Lagory

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science (MS) College of Arts and Sciences


As the prison population in the United States continues to expand, so too has the use of faith-based prison programs as tools for correctional treatment. Using in-depth interviews with thirty current prison chaplains and local religious congregants in Mississippi, I explore the strategies and techniques used by prison ministry workers in their work with inmates. Two overarching themes emerged from the narratives of prison ministry work. The first is that the ministry workers were careful to avoid setting or focusing on numeric goals for religious conversions before interacting with the inmates. They reported that this approach was based on their primary goals of being “used by God” and of focusing on sharing and encouragement. The second overarching theme was that the workers were careful to avoid the discussion of denominational issues in their interactions with inmates. This technique reflected their desire to connect with inmates at a simple level, or what they referred to as “meeting them where they are,” and to avoid potential conflicts and threats to safety. This study provides an in-depth understanding of a relatively understudied group.



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