Programs & Research

Assessing the Long-Term Effectiveness of Seminaries in Maximum Security Prisons


Angola2Book released 8/6/2016

Impact of Seminaries for Maximum Security Prisoners Will Be Studied By Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion



U.S. Prison Seminaries: Structural Charity, Religious Establishment, and Neoliberal Corrections
Michael Hallett, Bryon Johnson, Joshua Hays,
Sung Joon Jang, and Grant Duwe; The Prison Journal. February 6, 2019Handbook of Research on Academic Misconduct “Four Gods” in Maximum Security Prison: Images of God, Religiousness, and Worldviews Among Inmates

By Sung Joon Jang, Joshua Hays, Byron R. Johnson, Michael Hallett and Grant Duwe, Review of Religious Research, Vol 60, No.3, 2018

Existential and Virtuous Effects of Religiosity on
Mental Health and Aggressiveness among OffendersPrison Seminary Movement in Prison Life

by Sung Joon Jang, Byron R Johnson, Joshua Hays, Michael Hallet, and Grant Duwe; Religions (91): 182, (2018.)

Inmate Ministry as Contextual Missiology:
Best Practices for America’s Emerging
Prison Seminary Movement in Prison Life

by Joshua Hays, Michael Hallet, Byron R Johnson, Sung Joon Jang and Grant Duwe; Perspectives in Religious Studies 45(1): 69–79, (2018.)

Finding Freedom in Confinement: The Role of Religion in Prison Life,Kent R. Kerley Ph.D. (Editor); Chapter 1, pp. 3-22:  by Byron R. Johnson, Grant Duwe, Michael Hallett, Joshua Hays, Sung Joon Jang, Matthew T. Lee, Maria E. Pagano, and Stephen G. Post; Praeger,  January 31, 2018.

Images of God, Religious Involvement, and Prison Misconduct Among Inmates
Sung Joon Jang, Byron R Johnson, Joshua Hays, Grant Duwe & Michael Hallett,
Corrections (2017)

Bible College Participation and Prison Misconduct: A Preliminary Analysis
by Grant Duwe, Michael Hallett, Joshua Hays, Sung Joon Jang &  Byron R Johnson, Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, May 12, 2015

The Resurgence of Religion in America’s Prisons
by Byron R. Johnson and Michael Hallett,  Religions 5(3), 663-683, August 2014

An In-Depth Study of the Louisiana State Penitentiary and Darrington Prison

The Darrington Unit resembles most other maximum security prisons around the country, except for the fact that it now offers a four-year seminary within the prison. On August 29, 2011, thirty-nine prisoners were formally installed as the first class of seminarians studying to become ministers under a new program that operates within the maximum security prison. The Darrington Bible College is an extension of the Ft. Worth-based Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and is modeled after the Angola Bible College, a seminary based at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.  These two privately funded seminaries represent fascinating correctional experiments. The Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion has received funding to test the proposition that these seminaries can transform the lives of prisoners as well as the prison culture itself.  If found to be effective, the seminary model could be replicated in other prisons.

“Seminaries in maximum security prisons are designed to rehabilitate prisoners and transform the prison environment itself, we intend to test that proposition,” 

states Byron R. Johnson, Ph.D., director of Baylor’s ISR and Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and principal investigator of the project.

Sung Joon Jang, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology at Baylor and an ISR faculty fellow is the co-principal investigator on the study.
Jang states that social science research:

is helping us understand that religious conversions can play an important role as a starting point in the process of long-term change and reform. Offenders who successfully straighten out their lives often experience a turning point or event that was pivotal in bringing them out of a criminal lifestyle. In short, research suggests offenders can and do change.”

The grant is funded by Premier FOTO, LLC, a subsidiary of Premier Designs, Inc. (founded by Andy and Joan Horner) and will be used to conduct five-year studies of the four-year seminary dubbed “the Darrington Bible College” (an extension of the Fort Worth-based Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) housed at the Darrington Unit in Rosharon, Texas; and a nondenominational program called Angola Bible College at Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly called Angola