Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Dorsch, Nina G.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Teaching and Learning


Prisoners--Education--Illinois--Case studies; Prisoners--Religious life--Illinois--Case studies


Finding what works to rehabilitate offenders has been a long-standing challenge among correctional educators. Increasingly, faith-based programs have provided a curriculum in correctional facilities to meet this challenge. This qualitative case study examines the faith and moral development of the participants in the Life Learning Program (LLP), a faith-based correctional education program. The interviewees included five former program participants who were free citizens, one correctional officer, the chaplain/LLP director, and the LLP director of Training and Education. Additional data were collected from observations, various documents, and an audiovisual tape. The purpose of this study was to understand the participants' perspectives about faith development and moral development in the context of the LLP. Theoretical frameworks that guided this study included Kohlberg's and Gilligan's theories of moral development, Fowler's faith development theory, and Engel's Christian faith decision process. The personal crisis of incarceration created the dissonance needed for development to occur. Themes that emerged describing increases in program participants' faith development included positive role models, cognitive development of faith beliefs, personal development, and making a faith decision. Themes contributing to participants' moral development included living in a caring and just community and cognitive development of biblically based moral codes. The development of faith and morality was concomitant as evidenced in the LLP participants' increased sensitivity to right and wrong and positive moral behavior changes motivated by their faith commitment. These themes build on Downs's three aspects of cognition, volition, and relationship necessary for faith development. The findings also point to a phenomenon of postincarceration regression in faith and moral development. Findings suggest that while although all three aspects posited by Downs are needed for faith and moral development, relationships within a faith and moral community are of paramount importance to developing and sustaining faith and moral development.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [197]-209).


xii, 228 pages




Northern Illinois University

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