Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Study Raises Questions About Religion As Deterrent Against Criminal Behaviour


From Vancouver Sun:
A provocative new study is challenging assumptions about the deterrent effect of religion on criminal behaviour.

The U.S. study found that through “purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance,” hardcore criminals often co-opt religious doctrine to justify or further their crimes.

The findings could have important implications, the researchers say, for how faith-based services are administered within the corrections system.

Prison ministries shouldn’t just be about presenting religious doctrine because some inmates might take religious teachings to excuse their behaviour, lead author Volkan Topalli, a criminal justice professor at Georgia State University, said in an interview Monday.

“People have to understand that presenting religious doctrine to people isn’t enough to change their behaviour,” he said. “(Faith-based services) have to be systematic and about behaviour change — religion has to be a vehicle, rather than the goal.”

The research of Topalli and his colleagues was published this month in the journal Theoretical Criminology in an article titled With God on My Side: The Paradoxical Relationship Between Religious Belief and Criminality Among Hardcore Street Offenders.
(Thanks @VolcanTopalli)

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