Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

Committee Chair

Dr. Robert A. Thompson

Committee Chair School

Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

Committee Member 2

Dr. Byron R. Johnson

Committee Member 3

Dr. William W. Johnson

Committee Member 3 School

Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security


This research project conducted and then analyzed qualitative interviews from former and current addicts and criminal offenders who are voluntarily participating in the Christian faith at the same non-traditional, Protestant church. An abridged case study of this church is also provided for background and context. Life-course theory and grounded theory are utilized.

Both the offenders and this church were chosen in an attempt to better understand how the offenders’ involvement at this house of worship, along with their faith in general, have impacted them. Obtaining the perspectives of the offender is essential for three reasons. First, qualitative research conducted in the fields of criminal justice and criminology is not as abundant or wide ranging in specific subject matter compared to quantitative studies. Second, the qualitative research knowledge as to what addicts and offenders actually perceive as impacting their criminal trajectories is limited. Most research on the impact of religiosity on crime and deviance fails to account for the viewpoints of offenders through qualitative research. Third, in order for faith-based organizations to discover if they are helping offenders become more law-abiding, particular focused must be made on the FBOs that appear to be attracting offenders and addicts organically.

The concept of religiosity pertains to how devout a person or group may be, both in rate and behavior, for whichever particular faith in a higher entity that they worship. Religiosity is comprised of multiple aspects of worshiping a higher-being, including but not limited to physical and spiritual adherence to the central tenets of a particular religion. Additionally, and by extension, increasing rates of religious involvement and commitment have been touted as a mechanism to aid people in desisting from crime and deviance, as well as helping to prevent the engagement into criminal activity or substance abuse.

The themes identified in this project support the inverse relationship between criminal offending and religiosity, and the positive relationship between religiosity and prosocial behavior like volunteerism. Offenders want a non-judgmental church home that delivers sermons which relate Biblical scripture to modern-day societal struggles. Religiosity and salvation were identified as turning points within Life-Course Theory.