Religion and the Criminal Justice System (CJS): A Socio-Historical Overview

  • David Kirk BeedonEmail author
Part of the Sexual Crime book series (SEXCR)


This chapter gives a socio-historical overview of religious provision in the criminal justice system (CJS) as delivered through chaplaincy services in prisons and secure hospitals. Beedon critiques the evolution of chaplaincy provision in these contexts, noting the mixed motives—humanitarian and social control—underlying such ministry from its inception. He shows how secularisation and exposure to other faiths post-war has expanded the religious horizon to include, albeit in a contested way, the spiritual search for transcendence outside of institutionalised religion. Beedon attributes religion’s current status in the CJS to be largely derived from concerns around human rights, equality and radicalisation and argues for a perceptual shift from a transactional tolerance of religion, faith and spirituality towards a deeper appreciation of their intrinsic humanising value.


Chaplaincy Religion Faith Spirituality Secularisation Radicalisation Human rights Prison National Health Service 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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