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How Many Atheists Are In Prison?


chefranden
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I'd like to know the religious demographics of US prisons. I know I found the info on the net a couple of years back, but now it eludes me.

 

Do you know?

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I can't give you numbers, but I can tell you the answers, if taken out of context, may be misleading.

 

The majority of U.S. citizens identify as Christians, so it stands to reason that the majority of those serving time in prisons will also do so. Conversely, the same is true of self-identifying atheists being a minority.

 

Just something to keep in mind.

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I can't give you numbers, but I can tell you the answers, if taken out of context, may be misleading.

 

The majority of U.S. citizens identify as Christians, so it stands to reason that the majority of those serving time in prisons will also do so. Conversely, the same is true of self-identifying atheists being a minority.

 

Just something to keep in mind.

 

Thanks, I've thought of that. I'm looking to see if the %age of Atheist prisoners matches the percentage in the general population. Non-believers make up about 14% of the population and I seem to recall that less than 1% of prisoners were non-believers. I can't find it though

 

I've been looking though the deparment of justice statistics tonight -- no luck. :vent:

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chefranden,

 

I'm not positive pertaining to the exact statistics, but I'm relatively confident as to the demographics based on my own personal experience. I work in two PA state prisons --one is medium security while the other is maximum-- as a social worker/counselor. Therefore, I'v been exposed to a representative handful of almost every faction or clique within these prison populations. And not just a superficial exposure; rather, a very profound exposure, as one of my main job duties is to reconcile family bitterness between dead-beat-dads and their children. Needless to say, this means that I must develop a very personal but professional client/counselor relationship with a huge number of inmates, which involves detailed disclosure of their family background, belief system, and thought processes. That said, to this day, after six years and countless "clients", I've never encountered one inmate who has explicitly identified himself as either an agnostic or atheist.

 

Inmates typically fall into the following three categories in terms of religion:

1) hard-core fundamentalist (i.e Christian or Muslim)

2) nominal Christian or muslim based on the protection that group affiliation provides.

3) Not officially committed to any organized religion, but a strong belief in some sort of higher power.

 

But before you jump to the conclusion that religion is impotent regarding the deterrence of crime or that religious beliefs somehow contribute to crime, consider the following points:

1) The majority of those incarcerated were either nonreligious altogether or did not seriously practice their professed religion before incarceration. Because that is typically the case, religion cannot be accused of being impotent regarding crime deterrence, nor can it be blamed for somehow causing criminal behavior.

2) The majority of those incarcerated don't become seriously committed to a relgious ethic until they've reached their 30's, after the consequences of incarceration have borken through their formerly incorrigible spirit.

3) And among those who've made a serious committment to some sort of religious ethic, the rate of recidivism drops--recidivism being the number of times they re-offend and return to prison following release. From my perspective, I'm always relieved to work with a "client" that has a strong faith, because they are so much more cooperative, open to constructive criticism, and plain easier to work with compard to their "heathen" counterparts.

 

On the whole, then, instead of succumbing to the hasty conclusion that religion is somehow complicit concerning crime, the above data supports the notion that the very low rate of atheism within prisions is more a result of poor education than anything else.

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Maybe you can find something on this site. I started to look, but got too confused: http://www.library.wwu.edu/ref/refstats.htm

 

They might have the data or possible links to the data. Let us know if it leads to what you're asking for.

 

I heard too that less than 1% were Nontheists in Prison, which is less than in outside.

 

Christians I heard about about 70%, just like outside.

 

Muslims are more, and I heard it was mostly conversions inside the prison, not because they were Muslims at the time of the crime.

 

It's all unsubstantiated though.

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But you know whatever the results show, Christians will only claim "they arent true Christians". I really hate that line...

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Yeah, but you also need to take into account that a lot of prisoners will say they are religious in an attempt to make people think they're reformed and thus get out of prison earlier.

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Once convinced,

 

That may be the case, but faking religious conviction is not really rellevant to whether or not the conclusion that religion is complicit concerning crime is warranted.

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On the whole, then, instead of succumbing to the hasty conclusion that religion is somehow complicit concerning crime, the above data supports the notion that the very low rate of atheism within prisions is more a result of poor education than anything else.

 

Chad,

Thanks for the information. I'm not really looking for whether religion is a deterrent to crime or not. I want to see/show that Atheism or non-belief does or does not produce the evil people that it is supposed to produce. I would think that if Atheism equals license to be immoral as claimed, that the portion of atheists in prison would at least be equal to the portion of atheist in the population if not more.

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Thanks everyone I found this.

 

 

 

The Federal Bureau of Prisons does have statistics on religious affiliations of inmates. The following are total number of inmates per religion category: Response Number % ---------------------------- -------- Catholic 29267 39.164% Protestant 26162 35.008% Muslim 5435 7.273% American Indian 2408 3.222% Nation 1734 2.320% Rasta 1485 1.987% Jewish 1325 1.773% Church of Christ 1303 1.744% Pentecostal 1093 1.463% Moorish 1066 1.426% Buddhist 882 1.180% Jehovah Witness 665 0.890% Adventist 621 0.831% Orthodox 375 0.502% Mormon 298 0.399% Scientology 190 0.254% Atheist 156 0.209% Hindu 119 0.159% Santeria 117 0.157% Sikh 14 0.019% Bahai 9 0.012% Krishna 7 0.009% ---------------------------- --------
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Chefranden,

 

"I want to see/show that Atheism or non-belief does or does not produce the evil people that it is supposed to produce. I would think that if Atheism equals license to be immoral as claimed, that the portion of atheists in prison would at least be equal to the portion of atheist in the population if not more."

 

This question or intention to take atheism off the immoral hook is very important, as a great deal of bias and prejudice is wrongly directed towards atheists based on the philosophical notion that they are innately evil. And showing that atheism is not associated with criminal activity seems like a common-sense approach to doing so, but I'm not persuaded that this method is very effective. After all, although most criminals, before incarceration, would identify themselves with some sort of religious tradition due to family affiliation and upbringing, atheism is not off the hook, at least within the minds of theistic skeptics. Why? Despite that fact the the majority of pre-incarcerated criminals don't explicitly describe themselves as atheist, they are essentially atheists by default; in that, their family affiliation with religion is not embraced as a lifestyle and thus totally fails to influence their action/behavior. Therefore, insofar as an atheists conducts his life in complete disregard for any religious principle and as if God is non-existent, the atheist is identical to the pre-incarcerated individual.

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Chefranden,

 

"I want to see/show that Atheism or non-belief does or does not produce the evil people that it is supposed to produce. I would think that if Atheism equals license to be immoral as claimed, that the portion of atheists in prison would at least be equal to the portion of atheist in the population if not more."

 

This question or intention to take atheism off the immoral hook is very important, as a great deal of bias and prejudice is wrongly directed towards atheists based on the philosophical notion that they are innately evil. And showing that atheism is not associated with criminal activity seems like a common-sense approach to doing so, but I'm not persuaded that this method is very effective. After all, although most criminals, before incarceration, would identify themselves with some sort of religious tradition due to family affiliation and upbringing, atheism is not off the hook, at least within the minds of theistic skeptics. Why? Despite that fact the the majority of pre-incarcerated criminals don't explicitly describe themselves as atheist, they are essentially atheists by default; in that, their family affiliation with religion is not embraced as a lifestyle and thus totally fails to influence their action/behavior. Therefore, insofar as an atheists conducts his life in complete disregard for any religious principle and as if God is non-existent, the atheist is identical to the pre-incarcerated individual.

 

I wasn't looking for conclusive evidence. I don't know what that would be.

 

The pre-incarcerated may not attend church, help little old ladies with the groceries, etc. However they are acting in a some manner that most non-believers don't i.e. in a way that lands them in prison. So in some manner they are not just atheists in disquise. If it were the case that there is no difference between them and atheists we should see actual atheists show up in prison in some simular proportions.

 

This doesn't show that non-believers are less evil than nominal believers or believers. It only puts lie to the claim that a person that has no god will resort to criminal behavior because s/he has nothing to fear. Which is the argument that my friend was using.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest aldous

Chefranden,

 

"I want to see/show that Atheism or non-belief does or does not produce the evil people that it is supposed to produce. I would think that if Atheism equals license to be immoral as claimed, that the portion of atheists in prison would at least be equal to the portion of atheist in the population if not more."

 

This question or intention to take atheism off the immoral hook is very important, as a great deal of bias and prejudice is wrongly directed towards atheists based on the philosophical notion that they are innately evil. And showing that atheism is not associated with criminal activity seems like a common-sense approach to doing so, but I'm not persuaded that this method is very effective. After all, although most criminals, before incarceration, would identify themselves with some sort of religious tradition due to family affiliation and upbringing, atheism is not off the hook, at least within the minds of theistic skeptics. Why? Despite that fact the the majority of pre-incarcerated criminals don't explicitly describe themselves as atheist, they are essentially atheists by default; in that, their family affiliation with religion is not embraced as a lifestyle and thus totally fails to influence their action/behavior. Therefore, insofar as an atheists conducts his life in complete disregard for any religious principle and as if God is non-existent, the atheist is identical to the pre-incarcerated individual.

 

I wasn't looking for conclusive evidence. I don't know what that would be.

 

The pre-incarcerated may not attend church, help little old ladies with the groceries, etc. However they are acting in a some manner that most non-believers don't i.e. in a way that lands them in prison. So in some manner they are not just atheists in disquise. If it were the case that there is no difference between them and atheists we should see actual atheists show up in prison in some simular proportions.

 

This doesn't show that non-believers are less evil than nominal believers or believers. It only puts lie to the claim that a person that has no god will resort to criminal behavior because s/he has nothing to fear. Which is the argument that my friend was using.

 

Wow, that's quite an angle on it. I like it! The only thing I have to contribute is that if an atheist is a pragmatist, and is an atheist based on consideration of the available facts in the world (ie, not just agnostic and ignorant of religious teachings), they're pretty likely to realize that behaving in a criminal way doesn't exactly step you up on the social ladder. It's not very easy to get through life with people chasing you around every corner, and being a pragmatist, I feel it better to lead a so-called 'non-evil' life, and I'd imagine most sensible people would choose the same.

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Chefranden,

 

"I want to see/show that Atheism or non-belief does or does not produce the evil people that it is supposed to produce. I would think that if Atheism equals license to be immoral as claimed, that the portion of atheists in prison would at least be equal to the portion of atheist in the population if not more."

 

This question or intention to take atheism off the immoral hook is very important, as a great deal of bias and prejudice is wrongly directed towards atheists based on the philosophical notion that they are innately evil. And showing that atheism is not associated with criminal activity seems like a common-sense approach to doing so, but I'm not persuaded that this method is very effective. After all, although most criminals, before incarceration, would identify themselves with some sort of religious tradition due to family affiliation and upbringing, atheism is not off the hook, at least within the minds of theistic skeptics. Why? Despite that fact the the majority of pre-incarcerated criminals don't explicitly describe themselves as atheist, they are essentially atheists by default; in that, their family affiliation with religion is not embraced as a lifestyle and thus totally fails to influence their action/behavior. Therefore, insofar as an atheists conducts his life in complete disregard for any religious principle and as if God is non-existent, the atheist is identical to the pre-incarcerated individual.

 

I wasn't looking for conclusive evidence. I don't know what that would be.

 

The pre-incarcerated may not attend church, help little old ladies with the groceries, etc. However they are acting in a some manner that most non-believers don't i.e. in a way that lands them in prison. So in some manner they are not just atheists in disquise. If it were the case that there is no difference between them and atheists we should see actual atheists show up in prison in some simular proportions.

 

This doesn't show that non-believers are less evil than nominal believers or believers. It only puts lie to the claim that a person that has no god will resort to criminal behavior because s/he has nothing to fear. Which is the argument that my friend was using.

 

I was wondering if another angle you could use...is the difference in gender.

 

I mean...seeing as thou' most fundies believe the female caused it all...and the female is the weak link...etc etc....

then how come the female gender is not over represented in the penial system.

 

I actually agree with Chad....but would offer this idea ..to fuel the fire so to speak..

:HaHa:

Being the naaaasty "eve' that I am.!

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You spelled "penal" wrong.

 

And I wrote this post just so I'd have an excuse to say "penal."

 

:HaHa:

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You spelled "penal" wrong.

 

And I wrote this post just so I'd have an excuse to say "penal."

 

:HaHa:

 

:lmao:

classic freudian slip...

 

I'll neeever git the hang of that!...ppppeeenal!

Peennal...peneal....

have you ever cum across the incredible phenomenon of ...the more you try to spell a very simple word the more you fuckitup...?

 

:HaHa:

 

I do it all the time.

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