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Flourishing Captives Project

Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman Prison) is located on 18,000 acres in the heart of the Delta, where it has long been known as one of the most violent prisons in America. A transformation of Parchman is underway. At the center of this movement is a seminary embedded within the prison to train ministers and lead inmate congregations and ministries. These men live together in the same “zone” and worship together on Sunday mornings.

"A New Morning at Parchman Prison" Film



The Research Study

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

Principal Investigator | Andrew Johnson

This project examines the Christian practices of prayer, Bible study, synchronized singing, and the impact of these practices on human flourishing. Researchers 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.

Film Producers |  Byron Johnson and Andrew Johnson

Special Thanks | Burl Cain, Marc McClure, and the Mississippi Department of Corrections for allowing us to film at Parchman