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Latest and Upcoming Research

 

Pepperdine Partners with Prison Fellowship International for Study on Prison Program Efficacy in Colombia

This first-of-its-kind, multiyear study in Colombia’s prison system measures the efficacy of international prison programs in offender rehabilitation, recidivism reduction, and general correctional reform. Led by Pepperdine University and Prison Fellowship International (PFI), in partnership with the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute of Colombia (INPEC) and Prison Fellowship Colombia (PFC), the research study partnership findings will be applied to identify best practices that drive meaningful change in the lives of prisoners and their families around the world.  This unique endeavor will also position the Colombian government as a global leader in restorative programs.

Watch the Symposium now, or learn more on PFI's event page

On October 26, 2023, Pepperdine University’s Center for Faith and the Common Good hosted “Human Flourishing and Justice: Offender Rehabilitation and Restorative Prisons," a symposium to share more about the research and partnership. 

Panelists:

  • Jim Gash, President, Pepperdine University and co-executive director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good
  • Andy Corley, president and CEO of Prison Fellowship International
  • Byron Johnson, co-executive director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good
  • Sung Joon Jang, visiting scholar at the School of Public Policy and research professor of criminology and co-director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior at Baylor University
  • Lorena Ríos Cuéllar, member of the Senate of Colombia
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Fernando Gutiérrez Rojas, general director of INPEC
  • Lácides Hernández, executive director of Prison Fellowship Colombia
  • Cameron McCollum (JD ’17), director of the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Sudreau Global Justice Institute and administrative director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good

 

Affiliated Faculty and Research Fellows

Fulfilling the center’s requirement for high-caliber research and recognizing the inherent value of global learning and collaboration, faculty and research fellows from universities around the world will be invited to participate in the center’s research projects. Listed below are some of the center’s principal investigators.

  • Luisa Blanco, PhD, Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy
  • Ken Canfield, Founder, National Center for Fathering
  • Dyron Daughrity, PhD, Professor of Religion, Religion and Philosophy Division, Pepperdine University Seaver College
  • Grant Duwe, PhD, Director of Research and Evaluation, Minnesota Department of Corrections
  • Cristina Gibson, PhD, Dean's Distinguished Professor of Management, Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School
  • Michael Hallett, PhD, Professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, University of North Florida
  • Michael Helfand, PhD, JD, Vice Dean for Faculty and Research, Brenden Mann Foundation Chair in Law and Religion, Co-Director Nootbaar Institute on Law, Religion and Ethics, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law
  • Sung Joon Jang, PhD, Research Professor of Criminology and co-director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Family & Adolescent Delinquency, Baylor University
  • Andrew Johnson, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, Metropolitan State University in St. Paul Minnesota
  • Carol Lusk, Executive Doctor of Business Administration Program student, Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School
  • Elizabeth Mancuso, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Social Science Division, Pepperdine University Seaver College
  • Eric Rassbach, JD, Director Hugh and Hazel Darling Religious Liberty Clinic, Visiting Professor, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law
  • Brian Swarts, Director, Washington D.C. Program, International Programs, Seaver College
  • Knox Thames, Senior Fellow, Caruso School of Law, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Director, Program on Global Faith and Inclusive Societies, Templeton Religion Trust 


Research Projects

Research conducted at the center will explore outcomes related to prison incarceration and other social and behavioral services. The center, which merges Pepperdine's faith-centered mission and its commitment to rigorous academic pursuits, seeks to examine critical questions to ultimately impact the common good and society at large.

  Matthew 25 Project: Safeguarding Religious Freedom in US Prisons: A Multisite Evaluation of Prison Seminaries

The objective of this project is twofold: 1) to gain a more detailed understanding of diverse practices concerning religious liberty inside multiple large and prominent correctional programs; and 2) to publish a report-card summary of best practices for use by stakeholders in developing and operating faith-based programs in US prisons, as informed by the Matthew 25 research team.  

Using archival and site-based research, this project explores operational practices at six United States prisons regarding concepts of religious liberty. The shift toward faith-based volunteerism as a “structural charity” in US correctional budgeting has promoted a veritable explosion of religious programming in US prisons, yet no systematic review regarding best practices in terms of safeguarding the religious liberties of prisoners has yet been conducted. The purpose of this project is to help identify risks and to provide resources for stakeholders outlining “best practices” for the establishment and operation of such programs. 

  Hard Pressed, but Not Crushed: Spiritual Practice Inside of Prison

This project will examine the Christian practices of prayer, Bible study, synchronized singing, and the impact of these practices on human flourishing. Researchers will collaborate with formerly-incarcerated “lifers” and current chaplains to conduct qualitative research over three years. The data will deepen our understanding of the power of spiritual practice in the midst of suffering. It will also inform policy on the role of spirituality inside correctional facilities, and the findings will be applicable to those practicing faith outside of prison.

Prisoners may know something about the power of Christian spiritual practice that is out of reach for many “free worlders.” Studying spiritual practice inside of prison could provide rich data that contributes to the spiritual lives of individuals and communities well beyond the walls of prisons.

  The Importance of Religious Faith for Correctional Leaders and People in Prison

This project would consist of, at a minimum, two studies that examine the importance of religious faith not only for correctional leadership but also for incarcerated people in prison. Both studies would analyze novel datasets that significantly advance what is known about the influence of religious faith for the individuals in prison and those responsible for operating correctional systems. Due to the notable contribution that each study would make to the literature, it is anticipated that both studies will be published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

  Publications

"Assessing the role of religion in restorative justice approaches to crime"

Authors: Byron R. Johnson and Sung Joon Jang

Open Access Government, eBook

9 January 2024

 

"Offender-led religious movements: Why we should have faith in prisoner-led reform"

Byron R Johnson and Sung Joon Jang (2024), "Offender-led religious movements: Why we should have faith in prisoner-led reform", Open Access Government January 2024, pp.326-327. Available at https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/article/offender-led-religious-movements-why-we-should-have-faith-in-prisoner-led-reform/172386/

 

"What Do Correctional Leaders Think About Faith-Based Programs? Results From a National Survey"

Duwe, G., Johnson, B. R., & Hallett, M. (2023). What Do Correctional Leaders Think About Faith-Based Programs? Results From a National Survey. The Prison Journal, 103(6), 707-727. https://doi.org/10.1177/00328855231208001 

 

"Beyond a single story: The hetrogeneity of human flourishing in 22 countries"

Case, B., Counted, V., Ritchie-Dunham, J., Cowden, R., Gibson, C. Koga, H., Lomas, T., & Padgett, N. (2023).Beyond a single story: The hetrogeneity of human flourishing in 22 countries. InternationalJournal of Wellbeing, 13(4), 3555, 1-35. https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v13i4.3555

 

"The relevance of human flourishing to offender rehabilitation"

Sung Joon Jang and Byron R Johnson (2023), "The relevance of human flourishing to offender rehabilitation", Open Access Government October 2023, pp.352-353. Available at https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/article/the-relevance-of-human-flourishing-to-offender-rehabilitation/167135/

 

"Religion promotes prisoner well-being"

Authors: Sung Joon Jang and Byron R Johnson

Open Access Government

October 2023

 

"Virtuous effects of religion on negative emotions among offenders in a Colombian prison"

Sung Joon Jang, Byron R. Johnson & Matthew Lee Anderson (2023) Virtuous effects of religion on negative emotions among offenders in a Colombian prison, Journal of Crime and Justice, DOI: 10.1080/0735648X.2023.2249439 

 

The Spirituality of Carceral Citizenship: "Making Your Test Your Testimony"

Video Abstract in Symbolic Interaction

Hallett, M. (2023), The Spirituality of Carceral Citizenship: “Making Your Test Your Testimony”. Symbolic Interaction, 46: 473-494. https://doi.org/10.1002/symb.669

 

"A new strategy for failing prisons: hiring former inmates."

Author: Michael Hallett

America Magazine

14 August 2023

 

"Why correctional agencies should consider the religion of the incarcerated in the effectiveness of their programs."  

Authors: Grant Duwe, Byron R. Johnson

The London School of Economics and Political Science

25 May 2023

 

"New Insights for 'What Works'? Religiosity and the Risk-Needs-Responsivity Model"

Duwe, G., & Johnson, B. R. (2023). New Insights for “What Works”? Religiosity and the Risk-Needs-Responsivity Model. Crime & Delinquency, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/00111287231160736 

 

"Religion and Rehabilitation in Colombian and South African Prisons: A Human Flourishing Approach"

Jang, S. J., Johnson, B. R., Anderson, M. L., & Booyens, K. (2023). Religion and Rehabilitation in Colombian and South African Prisons: A Human Flourishing Approach. International Criminal Justice Review, 33(3), 225-252. https://doi.org/10.1177/10575677221123249 

  Press Releases

"Pepperdine’s Center for Faith and the Common Good to Host Human Flourishing and Justice: Offender Rehabilitation and Restorative Prisons Symposium"

Pepperdine Newsroom

25 October 2023

 

"Pepperdine Partners with Prison Fellowship International for Study on Prison Program Efficacy in Colombia"

Jessica Curtis 

13 September 2023

 

"Pepperdine University Partners with Multinational Organizations for Extensive In-Prison Study on Prison Programming Efficacy
Empirical, scientific evidence to build case for faith-based prison programs"

Pepperdine Newsroom

18 July 2023

 

"Pepperdine University Begins Collaborative Investigations on the Intersection of Religion and Sociology at the Center for Faith and the Common Good"

Pepperdine University Press Room

12 July 2023

  Events

Why Should Our Leaders Care About Human Flourishing?

Faith and Law | 15 December 2023 | Washington, D.C.

As a leader of the largest ever global study on human flourishing (results due in 2024), Dr. Byron Johnson (Pepperdine/Baylor) will help us understand why a "focus on flourishing" is important for all policymakers whatever their political party.

In conversation with Pepperdine School of Public Policy Dean Pete Peterson, Johnson will go beyond the theoretical to reveal what the latest data are telling us about the importance of faith in promoting healthy societies, and how policy decisions can either inhibit or promote human flourishing.

 

Human Flourishing and Justice: Offender Rehabilitation and Restorative Prisons

Pepperdine University | 26 October 2023 | Malibu, CA 

Watch the Symposium now, or learn more on PFI's event page

This first-of-its-kind, multiyear study in Colombia’s prison system measures the efficacy of international prison programs in offender rehabilitation, recidivism reduction, and general correctional reform. Led by Pepperdine University and Prison Fellowship International (PFI), in partnership with the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute of Colombia (INPEC) and Prison Fellowship Colombia (PFC), the research study partnership findings will be applied to identify best practices that drive meaningful change in the lives of prisoners and their families around the world.  This unique endeavor will also position the Colombian government as a global leader in restorative programs.

Panelists:

  • Jim Gash, President, Pepperdine University and co-executive director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good
  • Andy Corley, president and CEO of Prison Fellowship International
  • Byron Johnson, co-executive director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good
  • Sung Joon Jang, visiting scholar at the School of Public Policy and research professor of criminology and co-director of the Program on Prosocial Behavior at Baylor University
  • Lorena Ríos Cuéllar, member of the Senate of Colombia
  • Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Fernando Gutiérrez Rojas, general director of INPEC
  • Lácides Hernández, executive director of Prison Fellowship Colombia
  • Cameron McCollum (JD ’17), director of the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Sudreau Global Justice Institute and administrative director of the Center for Faith and the Common Good

 

The Impact of Faith on Human Flourishing and the Common Good: A Conversation with Byron Johnson

Pepperdine University | 10 March 2022 | Malibu, CA 

Byron Johnson, Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University, led the second installment of the President’s Speaker Series with a discussion on the impact of faith on human flourishing and the potential for religion to facilitate and contribute to the common good of all humanity.

Watch now