Baylor University Research and Study

The Prisoner’s Journey® has been changing lives in prisons around the world since 2014. From the beginning, qualitative stories and testimonies of program impact had been shared, but we wanted empirical proof to show that the program was creating lasting life change.

In 2021, Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion was commissioned to conduct a comprehensive, longitudinal evaluation of the program. Empirical evidence was found that proved that this program truly transforms prisoners’ lives. Findings shows that through increasing religious engagement, The Prisoner’s Journey increases indicators of successful rehabilitation and actions that typically lead to positive culture change in prisons.

Finding One
Respect and Obedience

Program participation increases forgiveness, accountability, gratitude and self-control and reduced feelings of depression, anxiety and anger. The program increased the likelihood of changed behavior and decreased displays of volatile behavior. Program participants become more respectful and obedient, leading to a "culture change” in prisons.

Finding Two
Interpersonal Aggression

Prisoners who participated in The Prisoner's Journey increased self-control, forgiveness and gratitude, while reducing the risk of engaging in aggression toward other prisoners.

Finding Three

Program participants were better at taking responsibility, as they could acknowledge their wrongs and fault. Heightened responsibility-taking helps prisoners rebuild agency, establish positive relationships with family and avoid committing crimes post-release.

Finding Four

The Prisoner's Journey participants undergo changes that create profound implications upon released. Graduates recidivate less frequently than other ex-offenders, are more optimistic about reintegration and are more likely to adopt a mindset of responsibility toward employment.

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Dr. Byron Johnson

Byron Johnson is a Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University and is the founding director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. He is recognized as a leading authority on the scientific study of religion, criminal justice and faith-based organizations. His publications examine the impact of faith-based programs on offender treatment, drug addiction, recidivism reduction and prisoner reentry.

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Sung Joon Jang

Sung Joon Jang is a Research Professor of Criminology whose research focuses on the effects of religion and spirituality, as well as family, school and peers on crime and delinquency. His work has been published in social scientific journals of sociology, criminology, psychology and social work. Jang is the founding President of the Korean Society of Criminology in America and has been active in the American Society of Criminology.

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