Rights and Religious Belief in Maintaining Prison Social Order

This paper argues that it is not the prison rules and regulations that alter the behaviour of inmates but rather the ideological justification of their religious faith. The article draws upon the social constructionist theory of reality to underpin the discussion of the data. Data was gathered through in-depth interviews and the distribution of semistructured questionnaires. When analysed, the data revealed that although inmates had the right to practice the precepts of their religious faith as defined in law, in practice, these religious rights were not entirely observed. The partial recognition of these rights divulges that the principle of humane treatment underpinning the respect for rights in prison was ignored and reduced to mere formal respect for rules. Besides, the data disclosed that inmates rarely attributed the change in their personality to the impact of prison rules and regulations, but rather to the transformative power of their religion.


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