Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Doug Munton


Mass incarceration, inmate ministry, church ministry to inmates, mandatory minimums, plea agreements, recidivism, restorative justice, inmate transition to society


Law | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Due to mass incarceration, correctional facilities in America are dealing with unprecedented levels of overcrowding, staff shortages, violence, suicide, and widespread mental illness among inmates. Budget cuts and the corresponding loss of vocational, educational, and treatment programs have exacerbated such problems. Mass incarceration and its deleterious consequences are challenging the very soul of America, and the church has largely stood by and watched this tragic situation unfold over the last fifty years. This research project has explored some of the barriers that have precluded churches from taking a more intentional, active, and impactful role in doing something about the national scourge of mass incarceration. The project involved a review of societal and theological constraints that have hindered American Christianity from acknowledging and responding to such a tragic situation for a half-century. The focused methodology included case studies of churches that have manifested an impactful commitment to be involved with the imprisoned during and after their periods of incarceration. A specific focus was to identify the theological basis and rationalization for doing so when so many churches have displayed such a great reluctance to get involved in any meaningful way. The researcher sought to identify factors that could sensitize, motivate, and encourage other churches to become engaged to change this terrible injustice in American society.