Title

Faith-Based Organizations and the Criminal Justice System: Perceived vs. Actual Roles in Serving Offenders, their Families and Communities

Presenter Information

Jewrell RiversFollow

Proposal Focus

Research

Abstract

This research assessed the perceived and actual roles of Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in their community and in working with offenders and their families in relation to the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Additionally, the research study evaluated this issue on the local level in an attempt to ascertain whether FBOs still do what they have historically been perceived to do or whether their involvement with the CJS has shifted in any way. Particularly, the research study also examined perceptions of staff members from FBOs regarding services and support provided for families of offenders.

The sample was selected using a combination of convenience and snowball sampling. Group sizes ranged from 2-5 participants. A total of 14 participants interacted in the focus groups. Each focus group lasted approximately one hour. All focus groups were recorded using a digital audio recording device, and transcriptions of the focus groups were prepared.

The transcripts were prepared using a combination of edited and intelligent transcription techniques. Researchers reviewed the transcriptions for recurring themes. Twenty-four initial themes were generated. Researchers then reviewed the themes for redundancy which resulted in 10 themes being identified. The transcripts were then coded based on the 10 revised themes. These themes focused on issues related to the perceived and real roles of FBOs in relation to the Criminal Justice System. As expected, the researchers found that FBO programming difficulties and concerns (f = 65) and misperception and lack of church involvement in the lives of offenders and the CJS (f = 50) were the most recurring themes. Miscommunication and lack of connection between the CJS and community was found to be the third most recurring theme (f = 15), followed closely by lack of reunification of offenders with their families (f = 14).

Perceptions of participants such as clergy and mental health practitioners confirmed the researcher’s expectations that offenders often express deep anxiety and concern over being separated from their families. Thus, current programming efforts may reflect a lack of emphasis on services designed to rejoin offenders with their families or reintegrate them in family systems based on participants’ perceptions. Analysis of the data is ongoing. Researchers will return to the data to further discuss theme coding and to determine if additional themes emerge. All identified themes will be further assessed for inter-rater reliability.

Keywords

faith-based organizations, criminal justice system, families, offenders, communities

Location

Tiger II

Start Date

9-3-2018 9:15 AM

End Date

9-3-2018 10:00 AM

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Mar 9th, 9:15 AM Mar 9th, 10:00 AM

Faith-Based Organizations and the Criminal Justice System: Perceived vs. Actual Roles in Serving Offenders, their Families and Communities

Tiger II

This research assessed the perceived and actual roles of Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) in their community and in working with offenders and their families in relation to the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Additionally, the research study evaluated this issue on the local level in an attempt to ascertain whether FBOs still do what they have historically been perceived to do or whether their involvement with the CJS has shifted in any way. Particularly, the research study also examined perceptions of staff members from FBOs regarding services and support provided for families of offenders.

The sample was selected using a combination of convenience and snowball sampling. Group sizes ranged from 2-5 participants. A total of 14 participants interacted in the focus groups. Each focus group lasted approximately one hour. All focus groups were recorded using a digital audio recording device, and transcriptions of the focus groups were prepared.

The transcripts were prepared using a combination of edited and intelligent transcription techniques. Researchers reviewed the transcriptions for recurring themes. Twenty-four initial themes were generated. Researchers then reviewed the themes for redundancy which resulted in 10 themes being identified. The transcripts were then coded based on the 10 revised themes. These themes focused on issues related to the perceived and real roles of FBOs in relation to the Criminal Justice System. As expected, the researchers found that FBO programming difficulties and concerns (f = 65) and misperception and lack of church involvement in the lives of offenders and the CJS (f = 50) were the most recurring themes. Miscommunication and lack of connection between the CJS and community was found to be the third most recurring theme (f = 15), followed closely by lack of reunification of offenders with their families (f = 14).

Perceptions of participants such as clergy and mental health practitioners confirmed the researcher’s expectations that offenders often express deep anxiety and concern over being separated from their families. Thus, current programming efforts may reflect a lack of emphasis on services designed to rejoin offenders with their families or reintegrate them in family systems based on participants’ perceptions. Analysis of the data is ongoing. Researchers will return to the data to further discuss theme coding and to determine if additional themes emerge. All identified themes will be further assessed for inter-rater reliability.