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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201709 Find in a Library
Title: Racism and Religious Discrimination in Prison: The Marginalisation of Imams in Their Work with Prisoners (From Islam, Crime and Criminal Justice, P 96-112, 2002, Basia Spalek, ed., -- See NCJ-201704)
Author(s): Basia Spalek; David Wilson
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Survey (Cross-Cultural)
Format: Book (Hardbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This chapter examines the penal system in order to discuss how well it responds to the needs of Muslim prisoners.
Abstract: Christianity, in particular the Church of England, had traditionally provided religious care to prisoners. In the last 25 years, however, the religious affiliations of prisoners have been changing, with the number of Muslim prisoners significantly increasing while the number of prisoners registered as Christians steadily declining. A report issued by the Runnymede Trust stresses that Islamophobia is endemic within British society, whereby practicing Muslims are often disadvantaged and discriminated against and are often the targets of abuse as a result of the religion they follow. This finding leads to the question of to what extent do prison authorities consider and include the voices of Muslims? This chapter reports on the findings of a study that explored the experiences of a group of Imams who visit Muslim prisoners. Nine Imams were interviewed at length over several months. The Imams were randomly selected and their experience level ranged from several months to as long as 12 years. Semi-structured interviews were conducted outside of prison, enabling the Imams to develop themes and issues they found to be important. The study found that the penal system is oriented towards Christianity, since the Church of England clergy are primarily given responsibility to provide religious care within prison. As a result, the Imams are often marginalized from the decisionmaking process, which impacts upon the kinds of religious care provided to Muslim prisoners. In addition, a significant proportion of prisoners and Imams experience both direct and institutional racism and anti-Muslim sentiment. Any reduction in the level of harassment and discrimination experienced by Muslims within the prison system has largely arisen from the work of Muslim organizations as well as the direct actions of Muslims themselves. The Imams who cater to the needs of Muslim prisoners have worked hard to improve their relationships with prison authorities, and it is now important for the authorities to remove the imbalance between Christian and non-Christian religions, granting a more equal status for non-Christian faiths such as Islam. 1 note and 17 references
Main Term(s): Religious programs
Index Term(s): Cultural influences; Inmate religious affiliation; Religion; Religious freedom; United Kingdom (UK)
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