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Old 05-03-2011, 06:59 AM
 
Location: the dirty south
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Does anyone have any numbers or links to the current (2010/2011) percentage of atheists in the prison system?

I need direction on this for a project I'm working.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:13 AM
 
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I don't have any sources, but I've heard the an estimate of ~2% thrown around a lot.

However, I'm a bit skeptical on this statistic in general. How many people went into prison with no religious affiliation and then "converted" to a religion out of fear? It's a hard statistic to get an accurate estimate on.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:18 AM
 
Location: The Milky Way Galaxy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interstate View Post
I don't have any sources, but I've heard the an estimate of ~2% thrown around a lot.

However, I'm a bit skeptical on this statistic in general. How many people went into prison with no religious affiliation and then "converted" to a religion out of fear? It's a hard statistic to get an accurate estimate on.
Agreed...how many "born-again" Christians do we hear about in prison...unbelieveable.
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Old 05-03-2011, 08:40 PM
 
16,300 posts, read 24,947,967 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interstate View Post
I don't have any sources, but I've heard the an estimate of ~2% thrown around a lot.

However, I'm a bit skeptical on this statistic in general. How many people went into prison with no religious affiliation and then "converted" to a religion out of fear? It's a hard statistic to get an accurate estimate on.
Last statistics I've seen were not 2% but 0.2%, 1997 numbers I believe.

Quote:
The Federal Bureau of Prisons does have statistics on religious affiliations of inmates. The following are total number of inmates per religion category:
Response Number %
---------------------------- --------
Catholic 29267 39.164%
Protestant 26162 35.008%
Muslim 5435 7.273%
Atheist 156 0.209%

Hindu 119 0.159%
A number of religions omitted to keep quote short.
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Old 05-03-2011, 09:30 PM
 
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Isn't this question a little bit like asking the percentage of atheists in foxholes under combat conditions?
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:24 PM
 
16,300 posts, read 24,947,967 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Isn't this question a little bit like asking the percentage of atheists in foxholes under combat conditions?
No, while never in combat in a war, I have been in combat with fire, as a 31+ year volunteer firefighter. I have gone into situations where the outcome was clearly in question, once trapped and injured by falling debris in the basement of a burning home, realiziing I was in a really deadly situation, but with training, a cool head, and firefighters efforts I came out of it with some burns and broken ribs. Never the thought of any god, for the simple reason there are powerless to help for the simple reason they are imaginary.

Walking into industrial fires that every bit of common sense told us this was nuts. Firefighting is a brotherhood, and we ran toward what 99.9%+ run from. Fear, damn right, fear is what keeps you alive, but controlled with knowledge, training and self discipline, and nary a deity involved. Every firefighter knows they must be able to put 100% trust in other firefighters. I wouldn't go into a fire with JC himself unless I knew he was thoroughly trained and equipped, as being rumored to be the son of god holds no sway against fear or flames.

Never the first thought about asking any god to protect me, relied on my training and knowledge of fire behavior, building construction, and use of protective gear and resources to accomplish the task at hand, from forest fires with 100 foot flame lengths, confined space rescue, to fires of all sizes and types.

Gods ain't going to help you, training and a cool head will. The Navy Seals are a great example, superbly trained and confident men.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:35 PM
 
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
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I think in America in general something like 10-15% don't believe in God, but only about 1% identify as "atheist." So in prisons it might be similar only more extreme.

Many people in prison do feel, inside themselves not just from external pressure, that their life is on the wrong path and do want to rehabilitate. There are few, or possibly no, atheist organizations in prison for them to gravitate toward for rehabilitation. Many programs for drug or alcohol addiction are even specifically theist if not necessarily specifically religious. (I have heard of "Rational Recovery" and "Save Ourselves" for the atheist/non-theist addicted, and maybe they have prison outreach, but I got the sense they're fairly small groups) There are many reasons for this and for all I know atheists want to do outreach to the prisons, but are discouraged. I have heard some states do not even give forms of "Rational Recovery" as an option for addicts.

Although also of significance is prisoners may want the appearance of positive change, not the reality, so they can look good. Church would seem to give that, but atheism almost never would. Atheists are sadly still distrusted so claiming atheism isn't really going to give a prisoner an image boost, plausibly not even if he's started reading Bertrand Russell and devoting himself/herself to peace, so it might be something they feel is best left unsaid.

Still I would guess self-admitted atheists are less likely to commit crime than average (perhaps discounting white-collar crime as I have a hunch atheists are average there) because self-admitted atheists are more common in less crime-ridden states, are less common among the very poor, and tend to be more educated as the educated are more accepting of people admitting atheism. Mormons are relatively rare in prison for some of the same reasons and I'd think members of the Lutheran-Church Missouri-Synod are also rare in prison. Presumably any group that tends to be educated, middle-class (or just "not poor"), have intact families, and be rare in the Deep South does relatively good on avoiding crime. Granted there are numerous educated middle-class Midwestern criminals from stable families, but it tends to be less likely. Or at least they're caught less often. (I went to school with an affluent white coke-dealer from a relatively stable family, but he rarely or never went to prison.)

It might be interesting to know the figures of a nation where atheism is far more accepted like France or the Czech Republic. In those places self-admitted atheists might be more similar to average demographics, but I don't know for certain. Or to countries that are fairly religious, but maybe somewhat less varied in crime by region. Like maybe Malta or Croatia. (Croatian crime rate might vary greatly by region though, I don't know)

I know I'm something of a guest or pest here, as a theist, but I hope that was acceptably neutral and non-judgmental.
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Old 05-03-2011, 10:41 PM
 
40,034 posts, read 26,715,004 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asheville Native View Post
No, while never in combat in a war, I have been in combat with fire, as a 31+ year volunteer firefighter. I have gone into situations where the outcome was clearly in question, once trapped and injured by falling debris in the basement of a burning home, realiziing I was in a really deadly situation, but with training, a cool head, and firefighters efforts I came out of it with some burns and broken ribs. Never the thought of any god, for the simple reason there are powerless to help for the simple reason they are imaginary.

Walking into industrial fires that every bit of common sense told us this was nuts. Firefighting is a brotherhood, and we ran toward what 99.9%+ run from. Fear, damn right, fear is what keeps you alive, but controlled with knowledge, training and self discipline, and nary a deity involved. Every firefighter knows they must be able to put 100% trust in other firefighters. I wouldn't go into a fire with JC himself unless I knew he was thoroughly trained and equipped, as being rumored to be the son of god holds no sway against fear or flames.

Never the first thought about asking any god to protect me, relied on my training and knowledge of fire behavior, building construction, and use of protective gear and resources to accomplish the task at hand, from forest fires with 100 foot flame lengths, confined space rescue, to fires of all sizes and types.

Gods ain't going to help you, training and a cool head will. The Navy Seals are a great example, superbly trained and confident men.
Thank you for your service. I admire first responders enormously. Your courage is very impressive and laudable. I am a Vietnam Vet with 60+ combat sorties so I am familiar with the value of fear and training. My post was just a thought in light of the common perception of the phrase "No atheists in foxholes." I did say "a little bit" . . .
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Old 05-04-2011, 01:59 PM
 
Location: Metromess
11,798 posts, read 21,967,933 times
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This is an excellent thread and discussion. I agree with Thomas R. that social class has a lot to do with it, and that there is likely considerable pressure to become 'born-again' in prison, both externally and from feelings of needing to turn over a new leaf, so to speak.

Asheville Native: Congratulations on being a volunteer firefighter! I am a ham radio operator and a member of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (R.A.C.E.S.), and am signed up for communications service with a local fire station. As you may know, Texas has been burning lately bigtime. We also help with finding lost children, SKYWARN (severe weather), etc.
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Old 05-04-2011, 07:35 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma
6,837 posts, read 6,178,314 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
Isn't this question a little bit like asking the percentage of atheists in foxholes under combat conditions?
I suppose your right. If Jesus can get them out of the foxhole alive then certainly he can get them out of prison.
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