Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Joe Easterling


Inmate Peer Mentors, Inmate Moral Rehabilitation




The moral rehabilitation initiative using trained and equipped inmates to mentor their peers within West Virginia prisons is in its infancy and lacks formal validation as a resource for prison reform in West Virginia. All key stakeholders must validate peer-to-peer mentoring for it to reach its fullest potential and become a tool for future prison reform. The key stakeholders include state correctional leaders, individual prison administrations, and the inmate population. Most of the inmate population in West Virginia has release dates and will be returning to local communities throughout West Virginia. Today’s investment in an inmate’s moral fiber translates to positive changes within the prison culture and fewer future victims of violent crime within the communities upon release. Moral people do not kill, rape, or steal. The “moral rehabilitation” training and equipping is provided through a four-year accredited Bible College offering a Bachelor of Arts in Bible/Theology and Pastoral Ministry. The college is inside West Virginia’s only maximum-security prison and is the first of its kind in West Virginia’s history. The college is open to men of all faiths or no faith, and anyone can apply for admission. Of West Virginia’s twenty-one adult prisons, over twenty men have graduated and currently serve as peer mentors. Some of the graduates were sent out as missionaries to other prisons within West Virginia. There are four prisons now using the graduates as peer mentors. The purpose of this study will be to seek validation of the use of peer mentors as a strategic resource toward prison reform, not only in West Virginia but other states as well.

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