Religion and older men in prison
The objective of the study was to examine the religious characteristics and background of inmates age 50 or over confined to a federal correctional institution. Ninety‐six of 106 eligible inmates (91%) consented and received complete evaluations. Forensic, demographic and health data were collected on all inmates, including detailed information on religious affiliation, background, belief, public and private activities, experience, intrinsic religiosity and religious coping. Over 80% of inmates were currently affiliated with a denomination different from the one in which they were raised, with a net movement from conservative Protestant to mainline traditions. Contrary to expectation, religious characteristics of older inmates were not greatly different from those of non‐incarcerated older adults. There was weak support for a relationship between religiousness and positive forensic factors (first prison term, fewer disciplinary actions). Religion was reported by 32% of inmates to be the most important factor that enabled them to cope. Inmates' intrinsic religiosity and perceived importance of religion to their primary caretaker (person who raised them) were both inversely related to depressive symptoms. This study suggests that religious background, belief, activities, experience and intrinsic religiosity are important factors to the adjustment and behavior of older prisoners. Copyright © 1995 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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