Social Cohesion Among Individuals Participating in Re-Entry Groups

Todd Lawrence Reiser, University of Texas at El Paso


When prisoners are released from incarceration they enter a social landscape that holds unique challenges. One of the ways humans living within social systems understand their place and role is through the mechanism of religion. This study investigates how group religious practice establishes a shared worldview among those recently released from prison; a worldview that promotes the creation of positive social cohesion which contribute to life improvements, social mobility, and social status changes. “Social networks may include friendship circles in local congregations, scripture study groups and relationships with religious leaders who serve as role models for individuals” (Kerley et al 2005). Religious support is a way of making new connections, one that assists people in finding meaning outside of criminal activity; an avenue of study often overlooked by criminological and sociological theory (Stansfield et al. 2017). The relationship between crime and religion is underplayed and undervalued, yet sociology recognizes the importance of a shared worldview that reinforces pro-social behavior and accountability among members. Community is what is needed by post-prison individuals returning to ‘normal’ life. Norms of civility and compassion can be found within many religious tenets, these norms encourage the development of community and an agreed upon order, what Durkheim referred to as nomos (Durkheim 1915/2012).

Subject Area

Sociology|Religion|Criminology|Social psychology|Pastoral Counseling|Social research|Counseling Psychology|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Reiser, Todd Lawrence, "Social Cohesion Among Individuals Participating in Re-Entry Groups" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13886751.