An Analysis of a New Zealand Faith-based Prison Unit as a Place of Retreat

By Franco Vaccarino and Margie Comrie.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 27, 2015 $US5.00

A faith-based unit can be seen as a place where prisoners can go to retreat both from the external noises of the mainstream prison and their own internal noises, and where there is significant potential for them to be profoundly influenced and transformed by this experience. By using face-to-face in-depth interviews with prisoners in a faith-based unit, chaplains and others involved in the unit, the researchers were able to explore some of the implications of life in this designated place where prisoners retreat from mainstream prison. The participants’ narratives show that the faith-based unit provides these prisoners with the appropriate environment in which inner change can take place, with the help of their faith. This environment, which can be seen as a microcosm of harmony, is one in which the prisoners have the space and time to experience a life-changing encounter with God, in order to have their lives changed and transformed. From the findings, it appears that the prisoners have internalised the need to change and want to change; this is a very significant step in the rehabilitation process, and preparation for their release and integration into society.

Keywords: Faith-based Prison Unit, Prisoners, Retreat Centre

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2015, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 27, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 490.169KB)).

Dr. Franco Vaccarino

Senior Lecturer, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand

Margie Comrie

Associate Professor, School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University, Palmerston North, Manawatu, New Zealand