School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Kenneth Gossett


aftercare, cognitive, faith-based, inmate, mentoring, recidivism


Christianity | Counseling | Educational Leadership | Public Policy | Social Work | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


The purpose of this qualitative, hermeneutic phenomenological study was to examine the impact of a faith-based approach to reduce recidivism. The theoretical frameworks guiding this study included the belief system and self-efficacy theories. Participants consisted of a convenience sample of 21 former mentors of the Marinette-Menominee Jail Outreach. The setting was a Christian non-profit organization serving the Marinette and Menominee County Jails located in rural northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Semistructured interviews, surveys, and a focus group provided data to illuminate common themes. Data analysis included highlighting significant statements from volunteer mentors who engaged offenders to effect change. Through highlighting, general themes emerged to examine the research questions under evaluation, and to understand the construct of recidivism by using horizontalization clusters of meaning, and textual descriptions. They all had a story, the importance of family, and engagement or rejection by the church emerged as themes in this research. Comprehensive aftercare was crucial to reduce recidivism, but offenders return to prison because churches do not have the parishioner involvement required to effectively engage offenders. Many church members lack spiritual maturity, evidenced by apathy or fear. Simply incarcerating offenders does not address the causes of crime or diminish the likelihood of repeat criminal offenses. Intervention strategies employed after the offender's release from prison could reveal the experiences or situations viewed as effective or ineffective strategies, which promote change. Keywords: recidivism, re-arrest, inmate, prisoner, faith-based, values-based, reentry program, aftercare, parole.