God in Captivity: The Rise of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Tanya Erzen. Beacon, $26.95 (248) ISBN 978-0-8070-8998-9
Religion scholar Erzen (Straight to Jesus) delivers another excellent, gripping ethnography, this time interviewing prisoners across the United States who are pursuing a university education while incarcerated. Weaving in historical exposition about prison systems, theories of punishment and rehabilitation, and the role of faith-based ministries, Erzen (who also teaches in a prison) paints a balanced portrait of the largely evangelical ministries that offer prisoners an education, exploring how these ministries transform and liberate certain individuals while using their monopoly of state prison systems to evangelize. Erzen’s research is impressive, wide-ranging, and thorough, and she is at her best when introducing readers to the women and men she interviewed: she provides in-depth portraits of their histories, explores their religious conversions, and shares the ways that getting a university education has changed their lives. Erzen is a talented writer whose prose is accessible and easy to digest, and she never dodges the complexities and rigor of her subject. This is an enlightening and unflinching examination of the tragedies of mass incarceration and the complicated role that faith-based ministries play in prisoner rehabilitation and the beliefs around it. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 03/07/2017
Ebook - 978-0-8070-8999-6
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