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Presented to the





Of St. Stephen’s College

Edmonton, Alberta

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of



Karen Anne Patricia McGibbon


This thesis is dedicated to all the young men who have been rejected and discarded by

their family and loved ones and have lost hope that forgiveness, redemption and

reformation will ever be theirs.


This study investigated the efficacy of Pastoral Counselling as a fitting approach in

rehabilitating criminal offenders in Jamaica with the aim of reducing recidivism rates

among the prison population. Qualitative methods (interviewing, case studies, focus

groups) were utilised. Three basic aims were examined: the effectiveness of current

rehabilitative methods, receptiveness of male criminal offenders to Pastoral

Counselling and the effectiveness of Pastoral Counselling to rehabilitate criminal

offenders. Findings suggest that a desire to serve and please God significantly

influences inmates to obey the laws. The combination of spiritual mentoring,

discipleship and opportunities to earn an honest living may lead to a productive

lifestyle and community service. Findings confirm the literature on Christianity based

rehabilitation of criminal offenders that faith-based rehabilitation significantly reduces

recidivism rates. Additionally, recommendations are offered for corrections and

Christian prison ministries.


This thesis was completed with the help and support of several persons. I would

especially like to mention Pastor Rawle Tyson who first said to me – “You are to

counsel”. I have come to realize that he was speaking as an oracle of the Lord.

The interest that Dr. Makesha Evans exhibited in my research gave me the

confidence that I needed to pursue it to the end. Mrs. Shelia Miller is a friend

that stuck closer than a sister. My children were very patient with me and my

husband loved me as Christ loves His church. I thank God for them all.


INTRODUCTION........................................................................................ 1
The crime Problem – A Brief History....................................................... 1
Recidivism............................................................................................... 2
Purpose Of The Study ................................................................................. 5
Rehabilitation and Reformation............................................................. 8
Personal Interest.................................................................................... 10
Choice Of Methodology.......................................................................... 12

LITERATURE REVIEW............................................................................. 14
What Works? ....................................................................................... 14
Religion and Rehabilitation.................................................................. 16
The Role of Pastoral Counsellors................................................................. 22
Pastoral Counsellors As Reformers.................................................... 24
Impact of Drug Abuse.................................................................................. 27
Mental Health in Prisons............................................................................. 27
Rehabilitative Therapies.............................................................................. 29
The Jamaican Context.................................................................................. 33
Qualitative Methods.................................................................................... 38

METHODOLOGY....................................................................................... 42
Validity......................................................................................................... 45
Triangulation...................................................................................... 46
Researcher Bias.................................................................................. 47
Ethical Issues............................................................................................... 47

RESEARCH FINDINGS............................................................................. 49
Focus Group……………………………………………………………..... 49
Proposed Rehabilitation strategies.................................................... 49
In-Depth Interviews
Self-concept........................................................................................ 49
Exposure to the Bible and God.......................................................... 50
Exposure to church Life..................................................................... 50

Prayer Life......................................................................................... 50
Exposure to counseling...................................................................... 51
Case Studies................................................................................................. 51
What he believes led him to commit crimes....................................... 52
What caused him to surrender his life to Jesus Christ....................... 54
What factors have contributed to his spiritual growth and commitment
to reject a life of future crime............................................................ 55
What he believes led him to commit crime........................................ 56
What caused him to surrender his life to Jesus Christ...................... 57
What factors have contributed to his spiritual growth and commitment
to reject a life of future crime........................................ 58
DISCUSSION.............................................................................................. 59
Summary of Findings................................................................................... 63
Focus Groups...................................................................................... 63
Structured Interviews.......................................................................... 63
Case Studies........................................................................................ 64
Relevance Of Findings To The Literature................................................... 66

CONCLUSION........................................................................................... 69
Limitations.................................................................................................. 69
Implications................................................................................................ 69
Recommendations........................................................................................ 70

REFERENCES...................................................................................................... 71

In-Depth Interview Schedule.................................................................... 90
Informed Consent Form............................................................................ 91
Letter of Approval for Research............................................................... 92
Client Feedback Form............................................................................... 93

Transcripts of In-depth Taped Interviews
‘RR’................................................................................................... 94
‘DC’................................................................................................... 106

Chapter One - Introduction
The Crime Problem - A Brief History
Jamaica’s current crime situation is best understood by its

historical precursors. Jamaica’s first major flare-up of gun violence

was during the 1980 general election. Over 800 civilians and 27

police officers’ deaths were documented. Supporters of the two major

political parties clashed for control of political turf. These rival groups

and their leaders known as “dons”, originally supported by the

political parties, acted as enforcers of political will and ensured that

citizens within respective constituencies voted in support of their

chosen candidates. In exchange, the political parties allowed these

enforcers to operate with impunity in these communities; in fact, they

became the rule of law in some cases. These communities became

known as “Garrison communities” (Stone 1981).

These communities were established and continued to exist for

the singular reason that they needed to survive. As the Jamaican

economy suffered setbacks in the mid 90s, the lack of financial

opportunities for the poor created a suitable environment for the

expansion of the international narcotics trade. Jamaica is used as a

main trans-shipment point between Latin and North America in the

illegal drugs trade (Moncrieffe 1998). Turf wars which were once

political have therefore become drug-related and where political

parties once had influence on these rival gangs, this influence is

often only an illusion at best (Levy 1996).

Violent crime is one of the most significant social problems facing Jamaica at

this time. Over the past two decades, Jamaica has experienced an incomparable

increase in homicides and violent physical attacks. Violent crime levels in Jamaica

have increased significantly in the last year. In 2009, there were record levels of

murders (nearly 1,700), shootings (1,650), carnal abuse (500), robberies (3,000), break-

ins (3,700), and larceny (500) {Retrieved from

report.cfm?contentID=114580}. With a population of approximately 2.7 million

inhabitants, the number of murders and other violent crimes gives Jamaica one of the

highest per capita homicide rates in the world. Several attempts have been made

throughout the years to reduce the number of violent crimes occurring in the island.

Many of these have mainly been short-term measures, primarily aimed at increasing the

mobility and firepower of the police force and have ultimately proved to be untenable.

Other attempts such as the UNICEF sponsored ‘Violence Preventation Alliance’ Peace

Campaign have seen more favourable results with a reduction of violence in several

communities which may now be referred to as ‘safe communities’ (Retrieved from: index/index.php?option=com_docman&task

=doc_download&gid=26&Itemid=94. The methods previously

employed have primarily concentrated on external factors such as increased training of

the police force, improving crime fighting weaponry and technology, increasing

security presence on the streets and numerous others, which have not shown any

significant contribution to creating a safer Jamaican society.


Recidivism is the relapse into criminal activity and is generally measured by

former prisoners’ return to prison for a new offense. A great deal of time, human

resources and money has been invested in the prevention of crimes and in rehabilitating

those who have become involved in criminal activities. These ‘criminals’ can be found

in remand centres, jails and prisons all over Jamaica. These ‘criminals’ will sooner or

later be back on the streets most likely jobless, and ripe for an even more vicious

onslaught on the society. Should these delinquent citizens of our nation be discarded as

inferior and unable to make any future contribution to society? Some have said that

“nothing works” to change criminal offenders (Martinson, 1974, p. 25), but recent

studies indicate that certain correctional rehabilitation programs decrease recidivism at

an average of 10 percent (Losel, 1995). Rehabilitation affords the opportunity to

basically save lives by redirecting offenders from a hopeless life in crime to a life in

which they stay out of trouble and even positively contribute to society (Nagin, 2000).

A large body of research carried out in the United States indicates that public support

for rehabilitation is increasing (Cullen et. al., 200; Sundt, 1999). A study of religion and

crime (Evans et al. 1996), found that participation in religious activities frequently

inhibited adult crime. The authors of that study concluded by stating “researchers are

beginning to understand the processes that may link religion and crime, but much more

work remains” (Evans et al. 1996, p. 212).

The rehabilitation of criminals in Jamaica has proven to be a challenging

undertaking with little evidence of success: “Rehabilitation will not occur under the

island's present prison conditions” says Professor Barry Chevannes as he proposes a

‘Transformative Approach’ to restoring peace and justice in Jamaica. “There is a

bloodbath going on inside the nation's maximum-security prisons there have been 20

murders and 35 stabbings in this year alone, an increase of approximately 400 percent

for similar incidents reported last year. Beatings are the prime method for behaviour

modification in our prisons” (Chevannes, 2001).

High rates of recidivism result in high costs both with regards to public safety

and the financial cost incurred to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate re-offenders. High

rates of recidivism also lead to significant social costs to the communities and families

of offenders. Due to these severe costs, programmes for inmates and released inmates

that reduce recidivism can be cost effective “Most of the persons we are now arresting

are repeat offenders,” explained Inspector Clayton Ritchie, of the Denham Town Police

station. Commanding officer for the Clarendon police division, Superintendent Derrick

'Cowboy' Knight, says the reform programmes in prisons also needs to be addressed.

"More focus needs to be put on the rehabilitation of these men in prisons, because we

(police) get the impression that these criminals are just getting fat and waiting to come

out to commit more crime," charges Superintendent Knight (Retrieved from

4 /thestar/20060904/news/news1.html). Rates of recidivism

reflect the degree to which released inmates have been rehabilitated and the role

correctional programmes play in reintegrating prisoners into society. Earl Fearon, the

new Commissioner of Correctional Services stated "Our re-offending rate presently is

31 per cent. We're hoping to bring this down to 10 per cent in the next five years”. He

stressed that achieving this goal will demand that the government provides the

necessary resources to achieve it. (Retrieved from

_Earl-Fearon-/news/19919 new-prison-boss).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research is to investigate: what opportunities presently exist for criminal

offenders to be rehabilitated; what factors facilitate lasting rehabilitation; and how can Pastoral

Counsellors contribute meaningfully to the lasting rehabilitation of criminal offenders?

Omitting issues of spirituality in counselling is a choice to ignore a vital aspect of

clients’ lives (Young et al 2007). The Jamaican prison system is not new to the influence of

religion on the prison population as several churches and Christian ministries have had regular

times of ministry and fellowship with inmates for several years. Prison Chaplaincy is also an

aspect of the Correctional Services in Jamaica. Chaplains have been part of the prisoner

reformation process for centuries. Scripture suggests that there is a need for Christian ministry

to those who have been incarcerated; “I was in prison and you visited me. . . .” (Matthew

25:36). Chaplains in Jamaican correctional institutions preach, teach, baptize, provide Holy

Communion, counsel, visit, and minister to the prisoner population. They serve as pastors not

only to inmates but also to the staff and the families of both. They serve all the people

incarcerated in their institution, providing for the spiritual needs of persons regardless of their

religious affiliation. This may involve recruiting, training, supervising a broad variety of

religious volunteers from surrounding communities. They serve as a link between the religious

communities on the outside and the religious communities on the inside.

Pastoral Counsellors are trained as therapists who are capable of utilizing the several

popular and effective therapies now being employed in mental health practices worldwide.

Among them is the popular Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is based on the premise that

our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviours, rather than external things such as people,

situations, and events. The expected outcome of this type of therapy is that we can correct our

thoughts; to feel and behave in a more emotionally healthy manner even if the situation does

not change. One can therefore infer that a Pastoral Counsellor who utilizes Cognitive

Behavioural Therapy with an inmate will refer to the Scriptures in establishing what the

correct thoughts of a prison inmate should be. Those thoughts, if embraced, should not only

steer the prisoner away from any interest in further unlawful activity but rather propel him into

the arms of Jesus Christ where forgiveness, healing, hope and help will be found.

In October 2001, the Urban Institute and the Alliance of Concerned Men in Washington

DC conducted a focus group with individuals who had successfully made the transition from prison

to the community. There were14 focus group participants, 13 males and one female. They ranged in

age from 26 to 58. The goal of the focus group was to explore "ingredients for success" as

perceived by the focus group participants, and to seek their advice as to ways that government and

non-profit agencies could better support reentry and reintegration for prisoners returning to the

District. Their overwhelming message was that something had to happen within each individual —

an awakening, a moment of clarity, a resolve to change — before they could take advantage of

services, jobs, programs, and people that could help them move to more stable ground. Two of the

themes that emerged in the discussions were a need for treatment:

“…Those who are getting ready to reenter need counseling. They need counsel and

need to understand that you can’t lie to yourself. And if you realize who you are and

where you been and what you have done, you can seek counsel pertaining to that information. If

you can’t do that, you wind up doing the same all over again because

you’re not changing. Anytime you change something and you take away a negative,

there’s a vacuum there, you have to replace it with something positive. Some thing

that makes you feel more energetic…”

and ‘finding faith’ :

“…God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself…”

A large portion of the discussion centered around the role of religion or a ‘higher power’ in

transforming individual lives (as mentioned above). There was also discussion of an additional

needed role that churches as community institutions could play — taking people in when they

return home, connecting them with mentors, role models, and a community of faith. (Retrieved

from: edPDF/410492_ ExPrisoners.PDF)

“…I would say that [returning prisoners] need spiritual advisors…”

J.J. DiIulio, Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University said: “It’s

remarkable how much good empirical evidence there is that religious belief can make a

positive difference…It is intellectually irresponsible to ignore the ‘faith factor’ in tackling

social problems” (DiIulio, J.J. Jnr, 1995). Religion targets antisocial values, stresses

accountability and responsibility, changes cognitive approaches to conflict, and provides social

support and social skills through interaction with religious people and communities

(Bergin,1991; Levin and Vanderpool,1987; Martin, J.E. and C. R. Carlson, 1988).

Rehabilitation and Reformation

In making a distinction between reformation and rehabilitation, we must first consider

that these words have completely different applications. Professor Anthony Bottoms asserts

that it is only since the second world war that the essentially Christian notion of “

‘reformation’ became ‘rehabilitation’ - that is, religious and moral impulses in reformation

became secularised, psychologised, scientized” (1980). While ‘reformation’ reflects the kinds

of “religious and moral impulses” alluded to by Bottoms, ‘rehabilitation,’ implies not just self-

adjustment and integration into the community, but a fundamental moral and/or spiritual

reformation or, in other words, transformation of character initiated at the point of Christian

conversion. Indeed out of Christian conversion does a new, ‘reformed’ way of thinking and

living develop which primarily honours God, and then man. One characteristic of

reformation/rehabilitation consequently, first implies a (potential) change in one’s behaviour -

which can occur in many different ways; secondly, a (potential) change of character –

originating from personal religious faith. This study will focus on both aspects of the

reformation and rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

Alexis de Tocqueville believed in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders, not in the

harsh punishment of them. He believed rehabilitating offenders into productive citizens was in

the best interest of society. In his famous book, On the Penitentiary System in the United

States and its Application in France, he writes: The object of the prison system “is to reform”

offenders (Tocqueville, A. 1980, p.46). He was opposed to “mass storage” of criminals without

some type of rehabilitation.

Wolfgang et al. (1972) described a process called 'spontaneous remission', where criminal

behaviour seems to cease. Yet, traditional criminological theories have not found a specific

explanation for the process of desistance from crime, and in fact tend to imply that a person's

criminal behaviour should increase over time (Gove, 1985; Moffitt, 1993). Several studies of

ex-offenders have found indications that a systematic change in identity and self-concept may

be decisive in the process of reform (Burnett, 1992; Graham and Bowling, 1995). Similar

indications have been found in research on the cessation of addictive behaviours such as drug

use (Biernacki, 1986; Denzin, 1987) Still, this research remains highly disconnected and

somewhat atypical of typical criminological debates.

In a 1997 study, Johnson (Johnson, et al., 1997) examined the impact of religious

programmes on institutional adjustment and recidivism rates in two matched groups of inmates

from four adult male prisons in New York State, USA. In reference to the reformation of

inmates, Johnson et al. consider that there is a larger question to answer. They respond:

“Tocqueville correctly observed that rehabilitation and reformation are two different things.

We can measure rehabilitation but we cannot measure reformation. Though we can observe

that some inmates unquestionably may have changed in positive ways, there is no way of

observing whether they have ‘repented’. The former inmate may still be a ‘very bad’ person

‘on the inside’, but as long as they do not commit illegal acts when they leave prison, they

become ‘rehabilitated’. This intriguing distinction warrants research, and raises the question of

why? Given the growing number of inmates taking an active role in religious activity within

prisons, it would seem a matter worthy of closer attention. Most of the research to date

considers the influence of religious commitment, as measured by frequency of religious

practice (church attendance, the importance of one’s religion) on some indicator of deviance,

e.g. alcohol abuse, drug use, and sexual activity”.

James Fowler is a developmental psychologist and is the premier pioneer of the study

of Faith development. In his book ‘Stages of Faith’ (Harper & Row, 1981) he identified six

stages of faith development. The third stage arises in adolescence and continues through to

early adulthood which is primarily the age group of incarcerated young men . This stage is

characterised by conformity, where one finds one’s identity by aligning oneself with a certain

perspective. According to Fowler, while one can at this stage enter into an intimate relationship

with the divine, one’s life situations may drive one into despair. The opportunity to reach out to

persons who are incarcerated while searching for meaning and purpose is ideal for religion and

rehabilitation to exist concurrently.

Personal Interest

Throughout the seventeen years that my husband and I have been married we have

repeatedly been faced with the choice; to help or not to help young men of varying ages. They

usually needed help to ‘get back on their feet’ after becoming somewhat disenfranchised as a

consequence of making some unwise decisions in the course of their lives. One young man

who was about twenty-two years of age spent some months sleeping on our living-room floor

after being evicted from the room he had rented. As far as we knew he had never been in

trouble with the law, but he had such a rebellious and defiant temperament that we could

envision the possibility of incarceration in his near future. He responded to the discipline

instilled by the strict rules that we insisted that he observe in our home and he was willing to

attend church with us and participate in our cell-group meetings. About a year after he left our

home he came back to let us know how well he was doing.

After moving to a rural St. Andrew community we noticed a prevalence of young men

with obvious potential, living seemingly pointless lives. Some were frequent marijuana users

and we were informed that others were guilty of petty crimes. Most of those youths came from

single parent homes with the father figure being absent. They quickly gravitated towards my

husband as a source of counsel and mentoring. We soon were faced with the opportunity of

helping three young men by allowing them to live in our home at the same time. John* (age 23)

came from a background where taking things that didn’t belong to him was reasonable. Allan*

(age 25) had recently been released from prison after being found guilty of house-breaking.

Howard*(age 20) had spent most of his adolescent years with his grandmother who was a

stalwart in the community. He was about to return to his family in a crime-riddled inner-city

community because of a potentially violent altercation between himself and a neighbour. He

was recommended to us by Allan as someone worth helping and he soon became ‘number

three’. Those three young men became a part of our family to varying degrees. They all

willingly went to church and other church related events with us. They attended and

participated in our cell-group meetings. They all made some profession of Christianity during

their time with us. Some of the challenges we faced with them were; John stole small items

from us from time to time and put them in his mother’s house next door; Allan started taking

drugs and breaking house rules; Howard, who was popular with girls and unable to read,

embraced our family as his own and lived with us for over five years.

* Names changed to protect their identity

Reformation can be defined as changing and improving someone by correcting faults,

removing inconsistencies and abuses, or persuading somebody to adopt a more acceptable way

of life and mode of behaviour. Howard, John and Allan were exposed to an alternate way of

living and a new, biblically inspired way of thinking.

Their behaviour showed signs of reformation to differing degrees with the most

dramatic improvements observed in Howard who became a part of my family for five years.

Arthur H. Becker (1985) described the pastoral counselling relationship as having the five

dimensions of communication, status, trust, emotional distance and religious climate. For these

young men, the experience of sharing our home and submitting to our leadership and

guidance represented, in my opinion, all the dimensions Becker described. I observed measures

of rehabilitation as reformation in this experience and I believe that these results can be seen

when a true pastoral counselling relationship is formed and pursued in the rehabilitation of

criminal offenders who have a genuine desire to change. As a pastoral counsellor, I intend to

continue this research with a view to seeing many criminal offenders reformed and


Choice of Methodology

I chose to utilize Qualitative Research methods in this research. The method of this

study was to interview two individuals who are now actively involved in ministry after being

incarcerated in prison for criminal offences while recording them on tape and noticing patterns

in the content of the interviews. I transcribed the taped interviews and developed case studies

of those individuals. I also conducted focus groups as well as structured interviews with

randomly chosen inmates from St. Catherine Adults Correctional Centre, General Penitentiary,

Tamarind Farm Adults Correctional Centre, South Camp Correctional Facility (Gun Court),

and Richmond Farm Adults Correctional Centre between the ages of 17 and 25 years, with a

sample size of 20. During these interviews I took notes and observed patterns.

My experience with Howard, John and Allan was a strong motivator for my choice of

focus on young men of the age-group specified. Additionally, in Jamaica in 2007, young

people aged 30 and under accounted for 78% of all persons arrested for murder, 68% of all

persons arrested for shooting and 69% of all arrests for major crimes such as murder, shooting,

robbery, burglary, rape/carnal abuse {Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ), 2007

(Retrieved from papers /0410/0410007.pdf)}. Despite the need for

research on the female criminal population, I believe that that this time in our nation’s history,

young men are ‘at greater risk’.

The central theme of this thesis is that ‘Christian Psychotherapy’ practiced by Pastoral

Counsellors can play a crucial role in the correctional process of an inmate’s social adjustment

and re-integration into the community. In chapter 2 the literature reviewed will examine (a)

what rehabilitative programs have shown a reduction in recidivism (b) the relationship between

religion and rehabilitation (c) the role of the Pastoral Counsellor (d) the effectiveness of

psychotherapy and (e) the unique challenges faced in the Jamaican situation. The research

questions: (1) what opportunities presently exist for criminal offenders to be rehabilitated; (2)

what factors facilitate lasting rehabilitation; (3) and how can Pastoral Counsellors contribute

meaningfully to the lasting rehabilitation of criminal offenders? These questions were

formulated from both the literature review and my personal experiences/insights and will form

the basis of the present study. In chapter 3 the methodology is presented (comprised of focus

groups, structured interviews and case studies); chapter 4 deals with presentation and

interpretation of the findings; in chapter 5 the discussion of the research findings and their

relevance to the literature; and in chapter 6 the conclusion comprising of the implications and

recommendations for further research and practice is presented.

Chapter Two - Literature Review

What Works?

Since virtually the inception of the modern criminal justice system, a persistent

response to the question of what to do with lawbreakers has been to change them into law-

abiders—that is, to rehabilitate them (de Beaumont and de Tocqueville 1964 [1833];

McKelvey 1977; Rothman 1971, 1980; Rotman 1995).The idea that correctional intervention

should reform offenders—should change who they are so that they will be less criminal—goes

back in the United States to the invention of the penitentiary in the first part of the 1800s (de

Beaumont and de Tocqueville 1964 [1833]; Rothman 1971). The very word “penitentiary”

suggests that the prison was not to be a place where offenders were merely warehoused or

suffered their just deserts, but rather that the experience of incarceration was to transform their

very spirit and habits of living. Current scientific opinion on an international basis is that

punishment through imprisonment does not reduce crime rates and, in some instances, even

worsens crime rates. Analysis of 50 studies from 1958, involving nearly 350,000 offenders,

showed that prison slightly elevated the risk for recidivism (Gendreau, Goggin, Cullen, 1999).

It is likely that religious belief contributes to the continuing appeal of rehabilitation as a goal of

corrections and its association with doing good for offenders (Applegate, Cullen, and Fisher ,


In 1974, Robert Martinson published his celebrated review of evaluations of treatment

studies, “What Works? Questions and Answers About Prison Reform.” This essay was

extracted from a 736-page book published a year later (see Lipton, Martinson, and Wilks

1975), and offered a pessimistic review of the possibility of successfully rehabilitating juvenile

and adult offenders. “With few and isolated exceptions,” concluded Martinson (1974b, 25),

“the rehabilitative efforts that have been reported so far have had no substantial effect on

recidivism.” This statement was eventually summarized to purport: “Nothing works” in

correctional treatment.

Martinson (1974b) presented, in his essay, what equated to a descriptive examination of the

previously analyzed treatment studies. His principal position was that “rehabilitation efforts . . .

had no appreciable effect on recidivism.” By rehabilitation efforts, Martinson (1976a) did not

mean that no studies had positive effects in reducing recidivism. He argued instead, that no

type or category of intervention—such as group counselling or skill development—could be

shown to consistently reduce recidivism across studies, settings, and offender classifications. In

realistic terms, then, a correctional administrator could not with assurance state that the “best

way” to rehabilitate offenders was to use one type of treatment rather than another. However as

Andrew et al. (1990, p. 374) noted: “reviews of the literature have routinely found that at least

40 percent of the better-controlled evaluations of correctional treatment services reported

positive effects”. Palmer (1975) made strides in this direction as he tried to identify patterns of

results in the studies cited by Martinson (1974b). He concluded, for example, that positive

results tended to be seen more commonly in rehabilitative programmes conducted in the

community rather than in prison; for juveniles as opposed to adults; and for offenders at

“middle risk” rather than “high risk”. Palmer proposed that instead of focusing on “what

works?” future research should instead place its focus on: “Which methods work best for

which types of offenders, and under what conditions or in what types of settings?” (Palmer

1975, pg.150) . As a result, in subsequent years researchers have developed an impressive body

of studies that underscore the effectiveness of a variety of interventions (Aos, et al. 2006).

“Best practice” rehabilitation programmes are considered to be those that target factors

empirically linked to the risk for re-offending. These include pro-criminal attitudes, problem-

solving deficits and creating opportunities for education and employment. A large body of

evidence shows that the risk for re-offending is modifiable when such programmes are

delivered. For example, studies in the United States indicate that recidivism rates in serious or

persistent young offenders can be reduced by 40% in community treatment and 30% in

institutional treatment (McGuire, 2002).

Religion and Rehabilitation

Arthur Hoyles, author of ‘The Church and the Criminal’ proclaims "many a criminal

has been so completely transformed by the power of God that all desire to break the law has

been eliminated. Evangelical religion is a social asset” (Hoyles, 1965). Carl Christensen, in

‘Religious conversion in Adolescence’, suggests that “since psychiatry is concerned with

mental disorders, much of the psychiatric contributions to the understanding of religious belief

have emphasized psychopathology. Sometimes psychiatrists tend to forget that religion is a

normal part of a man’s individual and cultural life” (Christensen, 1965, pg. 17. Jung (1933)

regarded spiritual functioning as having equal significance to physical, emotional, and

cognitive functioning. Contemporary literature in counselling and psychotherapy also suggests

that many clients can only be successfully treated if their spiritual issues are addressed

sensitively, efficiently, and routinely (Kelley, 1995; Richards & Bergin, 1997; Shafranske,


Studies, including interviews with inmates, have shown that religion

has strong effects even on the already deviant, and therefore has great

potential to ‘control’ crime (Arnold, 1987). Prison ministries, which primarily

seek to reach inmates for the purpose of converting the “lost,” have great

potential in crime control and to reform justice public policies. As evidence of

the effectiveness of religion in the prison system, Jane Musgrave writes in an article, “A 1998

study found that inmates who participated in intense three-day retreats run by the Christian-

based Kairos Prison Ministry were 33% less likely to be re-imprisoned. Further, there was a

57% percent drop in recidivism among inmates who participated in Kairos programs after they

left prison, state officials found (Musgrave, 2004).” In a study conducted by Byron Johnson of

the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society,

Johnson found that graduates of the Prison Fellowship’s program are less likely than non-

graduates to return to a life of crime. “Of the 177 ex-prisoners who participated in the study,

the 75 who underwent biblical education and counseling were half as likely to be re-

incarcerated”, he said (Johnson, 2003). There is evidence demonstrating the mental and

physical health benefits of religion (Koenig, 2002), and consequently there are scientific

reasons to predict that religion might affect behavioural and social change. Religion has been

shown to target antisocial values, change cognitive approaches to conflict and emphasize

accountability and responsibility (Bergin, 1991; Martin and Carlson, 1988). These behavioural

changes would be considered evidence of effective rehabilitation.

McNee, Holman, et al (1979) concluded that some of the reasons for the power of a Christian

emphasis in a prison setting are that:

(1) The Christian emphasis neither undermines the offender’s integrity (by

considering him to be of ‘diminished’ responsibility) nor leaves him without hope

(in the face of his own weakness and failing).

(2) Christian conversion - with its emphasis on repentance, forgiveness and a

new allegiance and empowering - reaches to the heart of those needs of every


Rehabilitation through Christian Psychotherapy is dependent upon the Christian

conversion experience (Slobodzien, 2004, p.37). It is important to remember though, that

conversion (the salvation of the spirit) does not necessarily cause an immediate renewal or

reformation of one’s intellect, emotions, or will. Some changes may be seen over a short period

of time but some sinful behaviour patterns may continue for some time before they are broken

and replaced during the process of Christian Psychotherapy.

In 1997 Jody L. Sundt, Harry R. Dammer and Francis T. Cullen conducted a study with

500 chaplains in the United States. Their findings indicate that a majority of chaplains see

religion and their spiritual work as rehabilitative. Chaplains indicated that most of their time

was spent on counselling inmates and this function was considered to be the most important.

The chaplains also reported that they utilized secular methods of counseling, specifically

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, but that they also placed a great deal of emphasis on religion

and spirituality during counselling sessions (Sundt, et al.,1997) An evaluation of Prison

Fellowship programs in the United States was conducted by Loyola College in Maryland. The

study also emphasized that offenders who succeeded in such programs (i.e., had a lower rate of

recidivism and committed less serious crimes than a control group) were those who had

undergone “intensive Christian discipleship training.” (Gartner, O’Connor, Larson, Wright and

Young, 1990)

Clear et al. (1992) studied 20 prisons from 12 states located throughout the United

States. The results of the Clear study indicate that religion serves as a mechanism to confront

the reality of imprisonment, while alleviating the dissatisfaction one experiences with life. In

the prison study, many inmates spoke about being “born again.” For these Christian inmates,

there was a persistent theme that God was actively involved in their lives, and was instrumental

in transforming them. Similarly, there were frequent reports from evangelical Christians

describing their religious “conversion.” They reported that their religion provided the

opportunity to atone for past transgressions and seek forgiveness from God, who they now

believed was in control of their lives. This, they said, consequently facilitated their spiritual

growth. Some inmates said that because of their new religious commitment, they were now

able to accept moral responsibility for their past wrongdoings. According to these inmates,

these changes resulted in their development of a new identity and in addition, their becoming a

totally different person from the “convict” who was originally imprisoned.

Empirical research examining religion as a pre-emptive mechanism of deviance

consistently presented evidence of a significant, inverse relationship between religion and

deviance (Cochran, Wood, and Ameklev, 1994; Cochran, 1988; Cochran, 1989; Ellis, 1985;

Johnson, 1984; Tittle and Welch, 1983). In 1983, Tittle and Welch examined 65 previously

published studies that reported evidence concerning the nature of the relationship between

religion and deviance. Out of the 65 studies, only 10 (15 percent) failed to report a significant

negative relationship between religion and deviance. The studies that do exist have found an

inverse relationship between religion and recidivism or in-prison misconduct (Johnson, 2004;

Johnson, De Li, Larson, & McCullough, 2000; Kerley, Matthews, & Blanchard, 2005).

Studies indicate that participants in faith-based drug treatment programs achieved

sobriety and were more likely to remain sober over time than their comparison-group

counterparts (Bicknese, 1999; Thompson, 1994). Several studies reveal that participation in

faith-based programs was also positively associated with increased self-confidence and self-

concept for both children and adults (Hangley & McClanahan, 2002; C. L. Johnson, 2000;

Jucovy, 2003; Kim, 2001; Winship & Reynolds, 2003). Other findings indicate that faith-based

involvement is related to improvements in clients’ overall quality of life (Brudenell, 2003;

Kim, 2001; Thompson, 1994).

The InnerChange Freedom Initiative® (IFI) is a privately-funded religious program

based in the United States of America that provides educational, values-based services to

prisoners on a voluntary and non-compulsory basis to help prepare them to re-enter the

workplace, religious and community life, and family and social relationships. The program is

based on values reflected in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Living in the same housing

unit, inmate participants are given values and faith-based teaching along with life skills

education for up to 18 months while in prison. Participants then receive guidance from a

mentor (Christian men from the community meet with IFI members “one on

one” for a minimum of two hours per week), and support from a local faith

community for 12 months after they are released from prison. The InnerChange Freedom

Initiative is designed to assist inmates who are seeking lifelong change and a new value system

(Retrieved from:

As the result of a spiritual or moral transformation and the development of life skills

needed for successful re-entry into their families and communities, inmates who complete the

program leave prison better prepared to become productive citizens (Johnson, Larson, 2003).

In essence, IFI’s approach is based on the assumption that the prisoner’s spiritual

transformation and spiritual growth will help to provide an antidote to the present prison

subculture. Thus a spiritually transformed prisoner will be more likely to choose a pro-social

response over an antisocial response when faced with a moral dilemma. The IFI program is

based on the belief that spiritually transformed prisoners will, in fact, accept good over evil, or

God over the prison code. In a report summarizing the results of an intensive on-site, multi-

year field study of IFI, including in-depth interviews with IFI staff and participants, IFI

graduates were found to be significantly less likely to be either arrested or incarcerated during

the two-year period following release from prison (Johnson, Larson, 2003). These data offer

initial evidence that program completion of this faith-based initiative is associated with lower

rates of recidivism of former prisoners. In another study, inmates merely exposed to

religion while in prison have recidivism rates that are 11% lower for men

and 28% lower for women than inmates not exposed to religion (Cornell,

1990). In addition, those inmates remained crime-free longer after release,

and that their repeat offenses were generally less severe than the control


Thompson’s and Randall’s (1999) stages of faith development describe Stage 4:

Individuative-Reflective Faith as being the developmental period of late adolescence and the

early adult years. They suggest that ‘faith’ is forged from personal reflection and experiences

(sometimes involving critical life transitions) that may cause the adolescent or adult to question

prior assumptions and to reconstruct new and different beliefs and commitments that are more

personally meaningful, individualized, and depend less on the guidance of authorities.

According to Thompson and Randall’s ‘Conditions That Foster Spiritual Growth in Children,

Adolescents, and Adults’ – one important condition is human support to individuals of all ages

during periods of difficulty or crisis, personal despair, or transition during which familiar

beliefs may be tested and reconsidered (Thompson & Randall,1999, p. 99-100).

The Role of Pastoral Counsellors

All pastors counsel persons, but pastoral counsellors have undergone additional

specialized training so they can bring together resources of scripture and faith and the insights

of the behavioral sciences in fulfilling their role. The pastoral function primarily involves

counseling (Acorn, 1990), as well as teaching moral and spiritual principles. Even as a

Chaplain is a Pastor who counsels individuals as part of his pastoral role, a Pastoral Counsellor,

in contrast, has been trained in a distinctive type of psychotherapy which utilizes spiritual

resources as well as psychological understanding to facilitate healing and growth. Pastoral

Counsellors can therefore be classified as trained mental health professionals who have also

received theological instruction.

Additionally, pastoral counselling is a unique profession. Pastoral counselling is a type

of counselling that takes into account the person’s faith. Pastoral Counsellors do not impose

any religious beliefs on their clients but are trained to understand one’s spiritual journey as

well as their emotional difficulties. Pastoral counselling can be considered as offering a truly

wholistic view of mental health if (1) its intellectual foundation is developed in theological

perspective, (2) the practitioner continues to integrate its theological dimension with clinical

psychology and psychiatry, and (3) he/she evaluates its applied research within the framework

of the normative standards of mental health (Duffet, 1995). Across the United States, more

than 3,000 pastoral counsellors provide a variety of services, including treatment for persons

with mental disorders; counselling for adults, adolescents, children, families and couples;

substance abuse treatment; wellness programs; religious retreats; spiritual direction; clinical

training; consultation to corporations; outreach preventive services in prisons, military settings

and schools; and community education (Retrieved from:


Psychotherapy is the treatment, by psychological means, of problems of an emotional

nature in which a trained person deliberately establishes a professional relationship with the

patient with the object of (1) removing, modifying, or retarding existing symptoms, (2)

mediating disturbed patterns of behavior, and (3) promoting positive personality growth and

development (Wolberg, 1977). The concept of pastoral counselling is a natural outgrowth of

the idea that ministers should care for their flocks, providing support, counsel, and advice for

people in all walks of life. It integrates both religious beliefs and the most recent advances

in psychology so that people who seek access to counseling have the benefit of spirituality

and psychotherapy in their treatment..

In 1995, Martin E.P. Seligman carried out a study on the ‘The Effectiveness of

Psychotherapy’. The study concluded that patients benefited very substantially from

psychotherapy, that long-term treatment did considerably better than short-term treatment and

that psychotherapy alone did not differ in effectiveness from medication along with

psychotherapy. Whether an individual is in crisis, or looking for personal growth, a pastoral

counsellor can provide the guidance, skill, longer-term relationship and information needed to

promote wholeness, with the context and support a person needs to make changes to live life

more fully (Retrieved from: The issue is no

longer whether psychological treatment works, but: 'what treatment, by whom, is most

effective for this individual, with that specific problem and under which set of circumstances?'

(Paul, 1969).

Pastoral Counsellors arguably have treatment success rates comparable to those of the

highest quality of mental health services. A study comparing the relative therapeutic efficacy of

a religious and nonreligious imagery modification for mildly depressed religious individuals

demonstrated the increased efficacy of a cognitive therapy geared specifically to the

individual's value system (Propst, 1980). Michael E. McCullough conducted a study on

religion-accommodative approaches in 1999. His findings indicated that there was no evidence

that the religion-accommodative approaches were more or less efficacious than the standard

approaches. Findings suggested that the choice to use religious approaches with religious

clients is probably more a matter of client preference than a matter of differential efficacy. He,

however, noted in his discussion that due to the importance of religion to many prospective

users of psychological services, counselling psychologists should devote more attention to

religion-accommodative counselling in future studies (McCullough, 1999).

Using himself as a living laboratory, renowned editor Norman Cousins (1983, p. 44)

described how the management of his own preventative reality allowed him to overcome a life-

threatening illness that specialists did not believe to be reversible and then, some years later, to

again apply the same mental processes in his recovery from an acute heart attack. He went on

to state that "Over the years, medical science has identified the primary systems of the body --

circulatory system, digestive system, endocrine system, autonomic nervous system,

parasympathetic nervous system, and the immune system. But two other systems that are

central to the proper functioning of a human being need to be emphasized: the healing system

and the belief system. The two work together. The healing system is the way the body

mobilizes all its resources to combat disease. The belief system is often the activator of the

healing." (Cousins 1983, p. 203)

Pastoral Counsellors as Reformers

The Pastoral Counsellor has the unique and spiritually significant calling to inform and

sometimes remind the counsellee that there is a religious dimension in life. Studies show that

regardless of the religious belief of the client, they can still respond positively to therapeutic

care by a religious therapist. In a study of cognitive-behavioural treatments with and without

religious content, clients reported a willingness to see counsellors of varying religious values

and they all believed in their helpfulness (Wyatt & Johnson, 1990). Lindgren and Coursey

(1995) found that 67% of clients desired greater opportunities to discuss spirituality in the

course of treatment. An additional 13% wanted “very much” to discuss spirituality with their

therapist, while another 21% wanted to do so occasionally. In a study of individuals

undergoing opioid-addictions treatment, Arnold, Avants, Margolin, and Marcotte (2002) found

that clients believed that a spiritual-focused therapy benefited their recovery in a multitude of

ways. Subjects reported that addressing spirituality as a part of treatment served to strengthen

and protect the ‘self’, as well as serving as a source of continued selflessness and protection for

others. In the correctional setting, a pastoral counsellor should simply inform

the client of the values and models they hold. When counselling enters

areas of potential value conflict, counsellors should then self-disclose the

personal values or religious and spiritual beliefs that guide their specific

therapeutic practice. Clients can only make a fully informed decision about

counselling, once they understand what implicit values will guide and shape

the process.

Pastoral Counsellors offer healthcare that does not just relieve symptoms, but facilitate

reformation. The Pastoral Counsellor is arguably the only healthcare practitioner whose role

and identity, as well as function, represent reformation. Pastoral counselling, then, must

consistently reveal the humanness of the counsellor in a relational way, as well as his

commitment to Jesus Christ as God. John Patton describes Relational Humanness as ‘God’s

revealed humanness for us in Jesus Christ. God’s relation to the world through a person

strongly suggests that the clue for development of personal meaning in life rests in the quality

of relationships and the character of humanness revealed therein” (Journal of Pastoral Care,

December 1976, p. 218). According to James Slobodzien (2004, p.24) “ the integration of

biblical principles and psychological science to develop a Christian Psychotherapy requires an

individual who is not only familiar with the current psychotherapy research literature but also

submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ revealed in the written Word of God. These two vital

qualifications must be adhered to so that the scientific accuracy of psychologists’ conclusions

can be evaluated from a biblical perspective. Only then, can the findings of natural science be

fused with the supernatural truths of biblical revelation, and subsequently used for effective

criminal rehabilitation purposes”.

The treatment goal that the Pastoral Counsellor must have when working with criminal

offenders in the rehabilitation process is the scripture: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is

a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is my

proposed definition of ‘Rehabilitation as Reformation’.

Despite the presence of Chaplains in the correctional system, they cannot minister to or

counsel more than a small percentage of inmates in their care. There is just not enough time for

them to do all of the crucial work themselves. The Pastoral Counsellor who serves in prisons

will provide the time and attention needed for each inmate to become a ‘new creation’. Jesus

Christ is the perfect example for prison based Pastoral Counsellors. One of the main targets of

Christ’s ministry was prisoners:

“ open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the
dungeon those who sit in darkness. ”. (Isaiah 42:7)

Impact of Drug Abuse

A Drug Abuse Survey conducted in Jamaican prisons in 2005 by Dr. Myo Kyaw Oo in

4 maximum security prisons found a majority of inmates (53%) were in the age range 23-34.

Out of a total of 440 inmates surveyed, there was a 46% prevalence of drug abuse. Ganja is

most commonly abused (39%). 34% of inmates are motivated to quit and 26% requested

assistance. 79% showed interest to participate in the drug abuse program in prison. (Retrieved

from: Research

has also shown that as substance abuse declines, so does criminal behavior (U.S. Department

of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance

Project-1998). Carmen E. Albizu-García, MD conducted a survey in 2005 with a representative

sample of 1,175 inmates in Puerto Rican prisons examining the association of drug use and

psychiatric co-morbidity to recidivism among inmates of a state prison system. Results showed

that, controlling for other predictors, illness burden is significantly associated to recidivism

suggesting the need to re-address the role of drug treatment in the correctional setting

(Retrieved from: apha/134am/ techprogram/ paper_140949.htm).

Mental Health In Prisons

A review carried out for the study, of a WHO (Regional Office for Europe) Health in

Prisons Project, on the prevalence of mental disorders among male prisoners in some of the

countries in the Project suggested that, on average, 32% of all prisoners suffered from a mental

disorder excluding substance misuse, while the inclusion of substance abusers raised the rate to

63%. (Aardema A, et al., 1998). A large study comparing the weighted prevalence of psychotic

disorders between the national household survey and prisons in Great Britain found a tenfold

higher prevalence of psychotic disorders among prisoners (Brugha, T. et al., 2005). Suicide

rates were also much higher in prisons than in the general community, although the prevalence

of mental disorders among the prison population was clearly a contributory factor. Many

prison systems lacked the necessary numbers of appropriately trained staff, and screening

procedures could be improved in most countries. Literature on mental health and suicides in

prisons has shown very high levels of diagnosable mental disorder among the prison

population compared to the population outside prison (Retrieved from: http://www.hipp- /events/hague/0040.htm.). Prisoners may have feelings of guilt or shame about; the

offences they have committed the fact that they have been imprisoned and the effects of their

behaviour on other people, including their families and friends, coupled with anxiety about

how much of their former lives will remain intact after release. These factors, while they may

be regarded as inevitable consequences of imprisonment, would in themselves be sufficient to

have adverse effects on the mental health of many people. The World Health Organization

Regional Office for Europe ‘Health in Prisons Project’ strongly recommends that all prison

authorities, health authorities and prison staff recognize and seize all the opportunities which

the prison setting presents to eliminate or reduce the mental harm which imprisonment may

cause and to promote mental health. (Retrieved from: E87552. pdf). WHO organized a

large conference in Switzerland in 2001, out of which came a consensus paper called “Prisons,

Drugs and Societies: Principles, Policies and Practices”. One of the main messages in this

statement was that much more could be done within the prison system to reduce the harm from

drugs and to treat successfully a large number of those prisoners addicted to drugs. Prisons

presented a unique opportunity to reduce the health problems associated with drug abuse and

addiction while also giving some attention to the causes of offending behaviour (Retrieved

from: http://www.hipp- prisonsand-drugs.pdf).

Rehabilitative Therapies

The Principles of Effective Intervention theory (see Gendreau, 1996; Andrews and Bonta,

1999; Cullen and Gendreau, 1999), claims that rehabilitation can work and will be most effective if

certain conditions are considered. Some of these conditions include; 1) high-risk offenders rather

than low-risk offenders will benefit most from high-intensity treatment; 2) interventions must

target “criminogenic” needs; 3) staff characteristics must be matched to personal characteristics of

offenders; 4) certain personal characteristics of offenders may interfere with their ability to be

successful in treatment (responsivity), therefore programs must match services with these

characteristics; and 4) programs should include behavioural techniques (Gendreau, 1996).

Social learning is a general theory that offers an explanation of the acquisition,

maintenance, and change in criminal and deviant behavior that embraces social, nonsocial, and

cultural factors operating both to motivate and control criminal behavior and both to promote

and undermine conformity. Social learning states that individuals learn behaviours either

directly or vicariously. These skills can be; functional or dysfunctional, conducive to the law,

or hostile to the law. Individuals develop definitions favourable or unfavourable to the law, and

the choice to commit crime depends on a subjective, relative “weighting” of which actions are

either favourable or unfavourable. Criminal behaviour is learned like any other behaviour, and,

like other learning, includes the techniques, motivations and attitudes necessary to successfully

learn that behaviour. It is not solely a “positivistic” theory of the causes of crime, addressing

only “why they do it,” and incapable of explaining “why they do not” (Gottfredson and

Hirschi, 1990; see Akers, 1996; 1998). There is a broad range of rehabilitation, prevention,

treatment, and behaviour modification programs operating in correctional, treatment, and

community facilities and programs for juveniles and adults that are explicitly or implicitly

predicated on the cognitive /behavioral principles in social learning theory. Cognitive–

Behavioural and Rational Emotive Therapies are two of the more effective therapies used in

rehabilitation. Cognitive therapy assumes that faulty thinking leads to problematic behaviour

(see Fabiano, Porporino, and Robinson, 1991, pp. 102). Evidence indicates that offenders often

are impulsive and lack self-control (Fabiano et al., 1991; Gottfredson and Hirschi, 1990;

Grasmick, Tittle, Bursik, and Arneklev, 1993). Behaviour therapy is based on the assumption

that offenders have learned antisocial behaviours by watching others and/or by being rewarded

for negative behaviours in the past. Consequently, these offenders continue to exhibit antisocial

attitudes and continue to commit antisocial behaviours. Behavioural therapy for offenders

should therefore involve behavioural rehearsal, modelling, and token economies (Corey, 1996;

Sweet and Loizeaux, 1991).

There is strong evidence of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural treatment for

offenders and a consequent reduction in the number of re-offenders (Friendship, Blud, Erikson,

Travers, Thornton, 2003). A cognitive behavioural approach seems to be quite compatible with

pastoral counselling and education aimed at treating criminal thinking patterns. This approach

assumes a relationship between events, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. In addition, it

uncovers dysfunctional thinking patterns that lead to bad feelings and antisocial behaviours

(McMinn, 1991). Behavioral and cognitive-behavioral therapy may be considered to be a

general category comprising two subcategories of treatments: (a) behaviour

modification/behaviour therapy and (b) cognitive-behavioural treatments. Behavior

modification/behavior therapy focuses on arranging incidents of positive reinforcement to

develop and maintain appropriate patterns of behavior (Bandura, 1969; Skinner, 1953). Studies

(Pearson, et al.) confirm Izzo and Ross’s (1990) meta-analysis of cognitive-behavioural

treatment, showing that cognitive-behavioural programs can reduce recidivism rates by

significant amounts.

Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Therapy (RET). RET is a structured process

that helped individuals rationally deal with problems living within their affective domain. As a

result of that early work, Ellis applied his theory to other areas and introduced Rational

Behavior Therapy, which applied this cognitive process to the behaviour of individuals. The

goal of REBT is to help people change their irrational beliefs into rational beliefs. Changing

beliefs is the real work of therapy and is achieved by the therapist disputing the client's

irrational beliefs. Samuel Yochelson and Stanton Samenow were among the first to apply these

principles to the criminal population. "Criminals experience brief periods of dissatisfaction

with their lives during which they sincerely want to change. Those in corrections much learn

how to take advantage of these periods by helping the criminal to see himself as the rotten

person he is and then teaching him new ways of thinking." (Samenow, 2004, p. 245.)

In 1986 Thomas Powell, Jack Bush and Brian Bilodeau developed the Cognitive

Self-Change (CSC) program based on techniques and methods of cognitive restructuring,

broadly similar to the methods of psychologist Albert Ellis and psychiatrist Aaron Beck

(Retrieved from: Vermont's+Cognitive+Self Change+ Program

-:+A+15-Year+Review-a079665471) . The premise of the program is that all people have

acquired thinking and feeling habits, including underlying attitudes and beliefs, which direct

and control their external behaviours. CSC aims to bring these automatic thinking habits under

offenders' consciousness and deliberate control (Bush, et al. 1993) The CSC Violent Offender

Program provides incarcerated men and women with an opportunity to engage in a long-term

change process to lower their risk of crime. We have noted a 20 percent reduction

in recidivism for men who participated in the program compared with a matched sample of

inmates who did not participate (Henning, Frueb, 1996)

Rational Emotive Spiritual Therapy (REST) is a relatively new therapeutic approach

that has the two major components of Cognitive therapy and Spiritual-based (Faith-based)

therapy. It was constructed and developed by psychologist Dr. Rick McKinney who describes

R.E.S.T. as a brief spiritual psychotherapy. This specialized therapy utilizes a combination of

principles and techniques borrowed from cognitive therapy and humanistic counseling

propositions in conjunction with the accumulated knowledge and understandings of the

intricate relationship between the mind, body and emotions (feelings, thoughts and behaviors).

The spiritual core (philosophy and healing techniques) of R.E.S.T. was developed through

intense study of the life and work of Jesus Christ. Cognitive therapy techniques are directed at

changing self-destructive behaviours by identifying and changing cognitions, beliefs and self-

destructive thoughts. In R.E.S.T. these self-destructive thoughts (SDT) are identified and

replaced with spiritual-based thoughts (SBT) to achieve spiritually-based behaviours. R.E.S.T.

is therefore especially geared to free men, women and youth from the ravages of drug and

alcohol addictions and/or from being controlled by negative emotions such as anger,

depression, anxiety, guilt, worry and shame (Retrieved from:


James Slobodzien (2004), in his book ‘Christian Psychotherapy & Criminal

Rehabilitation’ writes “within, the last 50 years, there has been a conglomeration of

counselling approaches which have been essentially ineffective in the fight against recidivism.

(He believes) that there has been a direct historical positive correlation between the Christian

Psychotherapy process and rehabilitative effectiveness”.

The Jamaican Context

Christians make up 65.3% of Jamaica's population, with the majority being Protestant,

(Retrieved from: partly due to the

influence of the Christian leadership in the British Anti-Slavery Society, and the later influence

of abolitionist denominations from the U.S. In spite of resistance by the slave owners, the

Christian faith spread rapidly as British Christian abolitionists and educated former slaves

joined local Jamaican Christian leaders in the struggle against slavery. Today, the five largest

denominations in Jamaica are: Church of God, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal and

Anglican. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Jamaica has the most churches

per square mile than anywhere else in the world; such a startling fact that sets the tone that

Jamaican religion plays a fundamental role in society, culture and political life. Religion is a

very important aspect of Jamaican life. There are traditional and non-traditional churches in

Jamaica. The majority of Jamaicans are Christian. Almost every Christian denomination and

sect is represented on the island, with over 100 denominations, the Church of God having the

largest membership.

Despite this strong Christian influence evident in the Jamaican Society, according to

the Constabulary Communication Network, murders in Jamaica increased by 687.5% from 152

in 1970 to 1,045 in 2002 (

Jamaica's former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson described the situation as "a national challenge

of unprecedented proportions." (Retrieved from: http://www.nationmaster.

com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita). In 2005, Jamaica had 1,674 murders for

a murder rate of 64.10 per 100,000 people; that year Jamaica had the highest murder rate in the

world. Data have shown that over the last 10 years, the majority of violent

crimes are committed by males in the 15-24 age group. In 2005 for

example, persons in this sub-category represented 43% of murder suspects

and 48% of shooting suspects. Similarly, it has been noted that male

youths in the 20-24 age cohort accounted for the largest share of murder

and shooting victims, respectively in 2005 (PIOJ 2006). The Report of the

National Committee on Crime and Violence (June 11, 2002) states that crime and violence in

Jamaica is reflective of a breakdown in social, cultural and economic relationships. Among the

factors giving rise to crime and violence the report mentioned decline in values and attitudes

across the society and destabilized family structure, including poor parenting. The committee

proposed that one of the reasons that past initiatives have failed is “too little investment in

people” (p. 15). Their recommendations included the “inculcation of proper values and

attitudes in the youth of Jamaica” (p. 19) as well as “utilizing reformed gang leaders in the

fight against crime and violence” (p. 31). The report suggests a number of reasons why

previous policies and initiatives have not worked better including; what works has been

neglected and, there has been too little investment in people (Retrieved from

Young men like 37 year old Cedric ‘Doggie’ Murray, who had been on Jamaica’s top

10 most wanted fugitives list for more than seven years, was shot dead in August 2010 during

an alleged gun battle with the police. Forensic psychiatrist, Dr Clayton Sewell, conducted the

analysis of Doggie's writings kept in a diary found in his possession. Dr. Sewell found his

writings to be consistent with characteristics of a psychopath exhibiting symptoms of an anti-

personality disorder. Doggie quoted several passages from the Bible in his diary and spoke

about God frequently, which confirms reports that he was a Christian for a number of years.

Sewell concluded that Doggie may have been very difficult to rehabilitate because of his

psychological condition, but was familiar with the dependence of criminals on the Christian

influences that they were raised with.

"They (psychopaths) are very difficult to rehabilitate. The success rate for persons with
psychopathy is very, very low," said Sewell. "I have come across convicted criminals

who said they prayed often, asking God to protect them even while they are out killing
people. And they are doing these wrongs with the Bible in the back pocket. It is not
unusual for people to draw on that upbringing," he said (Reid, 2010). (Retrieved from /gleaner/20100919/lead/lead7.html)

The criminal justice system has not been successful in keeping previous offenders from

committing new crimes. In January 2002, the average re-offending rate for prisoners in

Jamaican prisons was just over 30% (Earl Fearon, 2002). The Department of the Solicitor

General of Canada undertook to study issues measuring recidivism for federal corrections in

Canada (Bonta, 2003); A comparison of recidivism rates was done between years 1994/95 and

samples from fiscal years 1995/96 and 1996/97. Reconviction rates in Canada were in the

range of 41%-44%. The two-year reconviction rates for federal offenders in Canada were

found to be similar to those in other countries: England and Wales – 56%; Scotland – 47%;

U.S. (average of 15 selected States) – 36.4%.

The Department of Correctional Services is a department under the Ministry of

National Security in Jamaica, and one of the three arms of the Criminal Justice System. It was

established in 1975 by merging the prisons department, probation services and approved

schools to administer the correctional programmes of the Government. The mission of the

Department is to foster rehabilitation, whilst maintaining a united and highly motivated staff,

characterised by integrity, commitment and professionalism. Programmes of rehabilitation are

employed with a view to assist inmates to live productive lives upon release (Retrieved from:

In June 2009, the Ministry of National Security implemented the Jamaica Reducing Re-

offending Action Plan (JRRAP), which seeks to provide rehabilitative support for offenders

and ex-offenders. Under the JRRAP, offenders and ex-offenders are assisted with

accommodation, employment, education, and skills training, health and medical services,

including substance abuse services. They are also exposed to behaviour modification

programmes, literacy, parenting and life skills, and skills training which is designed to increase

their employability. As part of the programme social support and therapeutic services will be

expanded in juvenile institutions with an emphasis on counselling, behaviour modification and

mentorship programmes to reduce the rate of re-offending amongst juvenile offenders.

(Retrieved from library/pdfs/ JRRAP%20launch %20June


The need to reduce the rate of recidivism among persons who have been in penal

systems here and abroad is of fundamental concern to the Jamaican Government. Significantly,

these constraints contribute to incidents of re-offending, for example, approximately 23% of

the persons released each year from correctional institutions are convicted of another offence

within two years. The challenges are similar in the case of persons deported for criminal


Each year, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada deport thousands of

people convicted of various crimes to their countries of citizenship in the Caribbean. Between

1998 and 2004, the United States alone deported over 31,000 convicted criminals to the

Caribbean. Recent research shows that the rate of re-conviction for deported persons is

5.66%compared to 6.13% for the average ex-offender. Jamaicans are also the most deported

Caribbean population group from the United Kingdom and Canada, mainly because they are

the largest Caribbean population in those countries. Between 2001 and 2004, Jamaica took in

an average of 2,700 convicts a year from the three countries. In 2003, Jamaica’s prison

population was 4,744 (Walmsley, 2005), so the influx was comparable to releasing more than

half the domestic prisoner population into society every year. In one study on released

prisoners in the United States in the mid-1990s, about two-thirds were re-arrested within three

years (Data from the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, retrieved from: pbdetail&iid=516).

The ultimate objective of the JRRAP is full and effective rehabilitation of the offender.

This refers to the extent to which a programme is implicated in the reduction of crime by

"repairing" the individual in some way through addressing his or her needs or deficits.

(Retrieved from JRRAP%20launch %20June


Qualitative Methods

Previous research has indicated that; Qualitative research is well suited for the purposes

of description, interpretation, and explanation. (Lee, Mitchell, and, Sablynski 1999, p. 164).

Questions that begin with how or what lend themselves to qualitative study (Creswell 1998;

Lee, Mitchell, and Sablynski 1999); Qualitative research can be used to gain new insights into

problems about which information already exists (Creswell 1998; Hoepfl 1997). It can be used

to obtain new perspectives on questions that have already been studied or to gain additional

information that can be difficult to convey through quantitative methods. It can also be used to

identify a variable or variables that might later be tested through quantitative methods (Hoepfl


Denzin and Lincoln (1994) offer a working definition of qualitative research:

Qualitative research is multi-method in focus, involving an interpretive,

naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative

researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make

sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to

them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a

variety of empirical materials - case study, personal experience,

introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional,

and visual texts - that describe routine and problematic moments and

meanings in individuals' lives. Accordingly, qualitative researchers deploy

a wide range of interconnected methods, hoping always to get a better ‘fix’

on the subject matter at hand. (p. 2)

Qualitative studies produce descriptive information through gathering the language

used by participants to express their inner and outer worlds and by observing their behavior

(Bogdan & Taylor, 1975). A phenomenological qualitative study seeks to investigate the

meaning individuals give to their experiences (Creswell, 2003). In other words, to "capture this

process of interpretation" from the participants (Bodgan & Taylor, 1975, p. 14). In this project

I had to be willing to enter Verstehen, a state of "empathic understanding or an ability to

reproduce in one's own mind the feelings, motives, and thoughts behind the actions of others"

(p. 14). The objective of the investigator and purpose of a project is to seek understanding, or

Verstehen, of the participants' experiences of the phenomena. Verstehen is having personal

understanding of the thoughts and desires behind a person's behavior (Patton, 2002). The

investigator has to make an attempt to understand and see the phenomena under study from the

participant's view. The primary collection tool in a qualitative study is the investigator

(Erlandson et al., 1993; Patton, 2002).

Rogers and Bouey (1996, p. 52) point out, "Without a doubt, the most utilized data

collection method in qualitative research studies is the interview." Many authors

classify qualitative interviews into three types: structured interviews, unstructured

interviews, and semi-structured interviews. Semi-structured interviews have been utilised in

this research. Semi-structured interviews are sometimes called guided interviews in format in

that the researchers prepare interview guides that consist of a set of questions. The guides

allow researchers to generate their own questions to develop interesting areas of inquiry during

the interviews. This type of interview is widely used as the qualitative interview (Flick, 1998,

p. 76). Interviewing allows for a cognitive flow of time - reflecting on the past, explaining the

present, and predicting the future (Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, & Allen, 1993). According to

Patton (2002), "-The purpose of qualitative interviewing is to capture how those being

interviewed view their world, to learn their terminology and judgments, and to capture the

complexities of their individual perceptions and experiences" (p. 348).

Focus groups are a form of group interview that capitalises on communication between

research participants in order to generate data. Instead of the researcher asking each person to

respond to a question in turn, people are encouraged to talk to one another: asking questions,

exchanging anecdotes and commenting on each others' experiences and points of view.

Case studies are intensive descriptions and analyses of a single unit or bounded system

such as an individual, event, group, intervention, or community. (Merriam 1998, p. 19); case

studies focus on process, context, and discovery rather than outcomes, a specific variable, or


Chapter Three - Methodology

The purpose of this phenomenological study is to find answers to the questions:

What opportunities presently exist for criminal offenders to be rehabilitated; what factors

facilitate lasting rehabilitation; and how can Pastoral Counsellors contribute meaningfully to

the lasting rehabilitation of criminal offenders? Through a qualitative phenomenological lens

there is no concept of neutrality when conducting research. I acknowledge entering this study

with preconceived notions. My presence in the study as the literature reviewer, interviewer,

and author had a direct influence on the study (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975).

I chose to utilise the qualitative research methods of case studies (of persons who gave

up crime to follow Christ) along with in-depth interviews (of young men who are presently

incarcerated). Information was gathered through an interviewing process using a face to face,

one-on-one, in-person interview.

I submitted a request in writing to the Commissioner of Corrections at the Ministry of

National Security, and obtained permission to conduct in-depth interviews with incarcerated

individuals in the following correctional institutions: St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre,

South Camp Road Correctional (Gun Court) – maximum security institutions and Tamarind

Farm Adult Correctional Centre. Shortly after this I sought and received permission to also

visit Richmond Farm Adult Correctional Centre – minimum security institutions. I was

informed, through the Commissioner’s Office that because of the activities in progress the

chosen institutions were able to accommodate my visit at the time of my request, but the Tower

Street Correctional Centre (General Penitentiary) could not.

Upon arriving at each Correctional Centre I was greeted by the Chief Warden who

directed me to a suitable interview room. Based on the age criteria (17 – 25), inmates were

randomly chosen and invited to participate in the interview process. At three of the

Correctional Centres a small number of inmates were first asked to meet with me as a Focus

Group. I did not conduct a Focus Group at St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre because the

inmates were not available to meet with me as a group for undisclosed reasons. At the South

Camp Road Correctional (Gun Court), I met with seven participants; at Tamarind Farm Adult

Correctional Centre I met with four participants and Richmond Farm Adult Correctional

Centre I also met with four participants. Each inmate was given a Consent Form to read and

sign in the presence of a prison official before participating in the research process. The

discussion topic of the Focus Group was:

 “What are your views on the Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders in Jamaica?”

 “What is your view of God and what role does He play in your life, if any?”

I conducted structured interviews with a total of eight inmates; two at Richmond Farm

Adult Correctional Centre; one at Tamarind Farm Adult Correctional Centre; two at South

Camp Road Correctional (Gun Court); and three at St. Catherine Adult Correctional Centre.

Participants were chosen randomly by the wardens at each institution between the ages of 17

and 25 years, with a maximum sample size of 20.The wardens indicated that they selected the

first available inmates who were not otherwise occupied, who met the age requirements and

who were willing to participate. The inmates were each asked to sign a consent form and were

not asked their name. Basic information was gathered such as:

1. age?

2. have you ever been incarcerated before? If yes, when and for how long?

3. when are you scheduled to be released?

The interview questions asked of them were in reference to their spiritual or religious exposure

and perceptions. The questions: -

• Do you see yourself as a good/bad person?

• If good, why?

• If bad, do you think you can be a good person?

• Have you ever read the Bible?

• Do you believe in God?

• Have you ever attended church?

• Do you pray?

• If no, is there any special reason?

• If yes, do you believe that God hears you when you pray? Why?

• Have you ever received counselling? If no, would you want to?

• If yes, do you think it helped you? Why/why not?

I took regular and detailed notes of observable behaviours and verbal responses during each


I also developed case studies of two individuals who are now actively involved in

ministry after being incarcerated in prison for criminal offences. I obtained information on their

life-stories by conducting an in-depth taped interview with each participant, asking them


• what they believe led them to commit crimes,

• what caused them to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ, as well as

• what factors have contributed to their spiritual growth and commitment to reject a life

of future crime.

An external microphone was used on the tape recorder to ensure the quality of the recording.

The sound qualities of the audio-tapes were acceptable.

The primary collection tool in a qualitative study is the investigator (Erlandson et al.,

1993 ; Patton, 2002). I collected as much information as I could from each participant in a way

that did not feel invasive to them. I showed an interest in their stories and facilitated a short-

term relationship in an environment that felt safe for them to share. I believe that my skills as a

counsellor assisted me as an investigator in this study due to the amount of information shared,

the apparent comfortable physical appearance of the participants and the positive feedback

received from each one.


The term verification rather than validity is used to convey that qualitative research has

different procedures to verify trustworthiness and authenticity. Creswell (1998) gives a

working definition of verification as the "process that occurs throughout the data collection,

analysis, and report writing of a study" (p. 194). Eight verification procedures are common in

qualitative research: prolonged engagement or persistent observation of the participants,

triangulation, peer review and debriefing, negative case analysis, clarifying researcher bias,

member checking, thick description, and external audits (Creswell, 1998; Erlandson, 1993;

Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Patton, 2002). Creswell (1998) suggests that at least two participants

verification procedures be present to build trustworthiness into the project. For the purposes of

this study I have employed the procedures of triangulation and clarifying research bias.

Triangulation refers to the verification process of using multiple sources, methods,

investigators, and theories to provide corroborating evidence on a theme or perspective

(Creswell, 1998). The goal of approaching the phenomenon from different reference points

(methods, theories, interviews) is not to gather consistent information from these sources, but

to yield different kinds of information that accurately reflects the complexity of the

phenomenon leading to a deeper understanding (Patton, 2002).

In this project three types of interviewing were employed. The Focus Groups utilized

semi-structured interviewing. Two basic questions were asked of the groups which generated

discussion around a broad range of topics relevant to the participants’ experiences but not

necessarily to the specific study. Structured interviews were conducted allowing for a

limitation in the responses to the specific subject area being investigated. In-depth taped

interviews were also conducted which allowed for a thorough investigation into the historically

significant influences and motivations that shaped the interviewees life circumstances.

In addition, the participants in this study were sourced from three different settings.

Both Focus Groups and Structured Interviews were carried out in two maximum security

correctional centres and two minimum security correctional centres. Participants were serving

sentences ranging from first time incarcerated to third time incarcerated . The two in the In-

Depth audio-taped interviews were men who had completed their prison sentences and were

living successfully as ‘free’ members of the society.

Researcher Bias
The experience I had with the previously mentioned three young men who became a

part of my family left me with a specific conviction that led to this study. I was already

convinced that the combination of pastoral care and psychotherapy was certain to transform the

minds and lives of incarcerated young men into productive law-abiding members of society. I

was, however, not certain about the receptiveness of the ‘average’ incarcerated young man to

such an intervention. I was therefore biased towards a favourable outcome to Pastoral

Counselling, once utilized.

Ethical Issues

The issues of confidentiality, emotional safety, informed consent and reciprocity are

ethical issues that had to be addressed in the research process.

 Participants in the Focus Groups and In-Depth Interviews were asked not to give their

names to ensure confidentiality.

 All participants signed Informed Consent Forms, informing them about the purpose of

the study and informing them of their right to withdraw at any time or to refuse to

answer a question.

 Participants in the Correctional Centres were deliberately not asked to state the reason

for their incarceration. Questions were designed to encourage but not require open

disclosure of more sensitive information.

 The limited time in which interviews were conducted limited the possibility of an

expectation of reciprocity by the research participant and therefore maintained a

professional distance.

All participants were given a Client Feedback Form to complete after the interview was

completed. This feedback was intended to provide me with information on how effective and

meaningful the interview process was for the participants.

Chapter Four - Research Findings
Focus Groups

Certain common themes emerged from the three focus groups that were held in two

‘Minimum Security’ prisons and one ‘Maximum Security’ prison:

Proposed Rehabilitation Strategies

All three groups responded to questions about what views they held about successful

rehabilitation strategies with the following suggestions:

 Expand library and provide additional opportunities to improve education levels while


 Provide jobs (inside, and especially outside prison) for inmates at all educational levels

 Provide more positive and uplifting experiences inside of prison that will facilitate a

mindset change from negative to positive.

All participants expressed a belief in God and that He is in control of their lives.

In-Depth Interviews


Four interviewees described themselves as ‘good’ persons. They all mentioned family

members and/or teachers and friends who told them good things about themselves and

encouraged them since their childhood.

Three were ambiguous about their ‘goodness’ and seemed to vary their self-concept

according to the influences they were surrounded by at the time.

One viewed himself as ‘bad’. He was critical of himself, describing himself as

“stubborn” and “destined to be ‘bad’”. He expressed a belief that God could turn him into a

‘good’ person.

Exposure to the Bible and God

All interviewees were exposed to the Bible and God since their early childhood through

family influence. Seven interviewees continued to read the Bible and view God as their creator

and guide. One interviewee seemed to have had some negative experiences with Christians in

the past and even though he was an active participant in church activities since age 10, he did

not seem to feel comfortable and secure in his relationship with God.

Exposure to Church life

Seven interviewees grew up in church since childhood. Four of them were actively

involved in church ministry, one of which became ‘turned off’ of church because of how he

was spoken of by some of its members. One interviewee was taken to church by his boss for

the first time after he got in trouble with the law.

Prayer Life

All interviewees prayed regularly. They all believed that God hears them when they

pray. Six of them saw evidence of God working in their lives, even while in prison. Two of

them expressed insecurity of about how God regards them now because of the ‘bad’ things that

they have done. They spoke as if they hope to ‘earn’ His forgiveness one day rather than just

receiving it freely.

Exposure to counselling

All interviewees described having benefited from some type of counselling. Five

interviewees received counselling from friends, mentors and family members. Three

interviewees received counselling in a more formal setting such as at church with a pastor or

minister, or from a counsellor assigned to them while in prison. They all saw the counselling

process as useful and beneficial to them and welcomed any future counselling opportunity.

Case Studies

These Case Studies are intended to give insight to the readers into the individuals' life

experiences to the fullest extent that their words and my abilities enable them. The first Case

Study is of ‘RR’, a Preacher and Evangelist who has shared his testimony and ministered the

Gospel to thousands of persons around the island. Through his Ministry many souls have been

won for the Kingdom of God. The second Case Study is of ‘DC’, an Evangelist and an

ordained Pastor of a church in an ‘inner-city’ community since 2003. He describes himself as a

“Kingdom-builder not a church-builder” and has dedicated a large portion of his time to

reaching out to those in prisons and schools.

In the following quotes, ‘RR’ and ‘DC’ are the interviewees. The transcripts are written

‘verbatim’ in the local vernacular of Jamaican ‘Patois’.


What he believes led him to commit crimes:

RR described a life of extreme poverty as his experience as a child growing up. He

endured starvation and the humiliation of going to school barefooted and using a lamp at home

because his family could not afford electricity.

“I remember in my community when everybody have, what you call it, electric light
years after we were still using lamp or lantern….I remember I had to go to school
barefooted and I remember there were times for weeks all I eat was mango or orange
‘cause I couldn’t afford to eat food.”

He also described the pain of the rejection he felt by his father who he did not know

until he was 20 years old. He associated his school life with embarrassment and

discouragement as he was referred to as a “dunce” by his teachers.

“Went to school but I leave school. As I said, I was going to school barefooted, didn’t
have any lunch money so I was embarrassed. I couldn’t deal with the school thing. So
I made up my mind that I was going to be a criminal… when I was in the classroom I

think the teachers just let me feel low, them never motivate me, or encourage me to
learn and what I would hear is dunce and you gonna be a this and you just mek up you
mind that it better you do something that is more easy and you don’t sweat for and you
don’t have any embarrassment. The classroom was too embarrassing for me.”

He was drawn to some ‘youths’ who made him feel accepted and give him treats to do

their “dirty work” for them. Getting and using a gun represented a chance to be powerful and a

chance to have an “easy” life without having to “sweat” for it.

“Let me tell you something about being a gunman it make people respect you and let’s
say you’re from a home nobody respect you, nobody love you or say anything good
about you … and then you have you gun those same people behave as if they are
fearful, trust me.”

‘RR” mentioned that he grew up illiterate along with his mother and stepfather. He said

that his knowledge of God was limited to what he heard people say as he could not read the

Bible. He described his childhood as being devoid of love and affection. As a young man he

longed to feel loved and a sense of ‘belonging’.

“I couldn’t read of course; so if you cant read … you talking about religion, where
religion is concerned the only consciousness I have about God is what he put there and
what I hear people say…. my mother couldn’t read and my stepfather couldn’t read. I
remember the first time my mother hug me was when I got married! You understand
what I mean? I never hear the word love …so that kind of environment bound to affect
you in a negative way .. is a mus’.”

He explained how badly he was treated by some people that he had to live with in

Kingston and also some relatives that he lived with afterwards. He wanted to be ‘seen’ instead

of being ignored. His heart grew hard and hate filled.

“….what I had in mind when I came to Kingston was to go back to school. Now my
relative that I live with was running business, selling box drinks and ice cream, so they
use me to go and buy what they want and me never get to go to school. They told me
that “its too late for you to go to school now, you already grow up. Just try work and
get some money”. But me a work and me nah get no money. I reach to the point now
where I hated them … I wanted to kill them. So me start plan with some guys fi rob
them and kill them… It so happen me start to get violent….go dance and stab up
people, fight with the guys in my community fight with the people in my home and that
kind a thing. ”

What caused him to surrender his life to Jesus Christ:

RR spoke about his fear of dying in prison and then appealing to God to save him so

that he could serve him.

“I was afraid that me wasn’t going to make it out, so me sey let me serve Jesus. But me
never last. When I came out some guys start to test me faith and me sey to them, “hello
youth, cool yuself because me nuh fraid fe go back a prison”. The third time I went in
for shooting with intent and illegal possession of firearm and ammunition. The same
day I was apprehended … I get a shot and the same day me pray and said God if you
save me I’m going to serve you”.

He didn’t really have a meaningful relationship with God until he started reading the

Bible and receiving encouragement from an older, wiser inmate. He also described a

supernatural ‘work’ that God was doing in his heart during this time.

“I was beaten severely so much more that I was unconscious. I had hidden the gun and
they wanted to get it so I was beaten so much…while I was in my unconscious state is
as if my spirit left my body and I was floating in the air and I saw my dead body on the
ground and I heard a voice say to me that “if you don’t surrender to me now you will
never go back into that body” and right there and then I surrender my life to the Lord.
When I went into the prison cell I found a big old bible, big bible that man have a
smoke … tear out the leaf and smoke. And I secured that bible and started to read it.
First, I couldn’t read so me a go through it but even though me a scan it and a go
through I could feel that something was happening inside me… a rastaman came in and
start help me where reading was concerned so me start understanding certain things.
So the bible became so real …I didn’t know that I could be in prison and feel so

What factors have contributed to his spiritual growth and commitment to reject a life of future


The ministry of the visiting church groups in prison made it possible for RR to publicly

declare his Christian commitment through baptism. He saw one of the visiting pastors as a role

model and sought to be like him. The opportunity to live with Bro. Morrison and his family

allowed him to be taught, discipled, counselled and encouraged as well as get back on his feet

by studying further until he could earn a living.

“I got baptized in prison and it was W. A. Blair who baptized me. And from he
baptized me there was this connection … so me start to preach like him, walk like him,
talk like him, do everything like him. Bro. Morrison … took me out of prison, he was
the one who moulded me, he was he one who helped me to discover the calling of God,
he as the one who said to me ‘Roderick you can’t work yet” When everybody else a
say ‘go look work, go look work’, him say to me, ‘no RR you can’t work yet’ him say

you have to go to Bible school and develop yourself… He was the one who see what
God called me to do, I never even see it ”.


What he believes led him to commit crimes:

DC described a life of parental neglect, negative male role models, no boundaries and

poverty. He grew up in Jones Town - an ‘inner-city’ community - during his formative years.

“My life was like .. I grow up rude, give a lot of trouble…my father was a soft man
and more time I do some things and dem ignore it. More time me go school and fight
and when me come home dem laugh and is like nothing to dem. Me mother jus do
things bare-face before me. My mother have all man with me father and bare-face
before me .. she nuh care. I remember my mother used to beat up my dad, regular” .

He eventually went back and forth between Jones Town and a rural community in St.

James. He lived in an abusive environment and ultimately saw the other ‘rude’ boys at school

and in his community as persons to emulate. He expressed disappointment in the manner in

which his mother chose to live her life as well as how neglectful she was of him. His father

played little or no role in guiding and shaping him as a young man. He was also unable to read

or write despite having been exposed to a primary school education At he age of twelve, he

sought to become a career criminal in order to gain acceptance with other ‘youths’ and appeal

with the opposite sex..

“When I’m in Jones Town I start to see real badness so I figure that is the right place I
come now. I saw man with gun and me sey me want a gun; I saw man rob people and
me sey me want rob people to the same way. I saw man go jail and come back in the
area and me sey me me want go jail too…Having gun, going to jail and robbing people
was the in thing in the area – if you is not a robber or a gun man or nuh go to jail the
woman dem nuh recognize you so…a man who fire gun after him fire the first shot and
so it get down inna him system. So one time nobody couldn’t tell me sey anything
wrong with it because a something that make me feel nice, it just become a part of me,
me feel lively, me feel nice when I reach 20 now I start fi realize sey dem lifestyle yah
no right but when I check it out I can’t leave. I don’t have no trade, I don’t have no one
to go to so might as well me stick it out and continue ‘til me dead because me start

What caused him to surrender his life to Jesus Christ:

DC was supernaturally ‘touched’ by God one day in his cell. He described a feeling of

“freedom” that he had never experienced before. Before that day his heart was filled with anger

at everyone who he believed had not supported and encouraged him in his family. He was

planning revenge when he got out of prison.

“I was in Gun Court prison in December 1993. Me start to blame some other relatives.
Them say a dem mek me inna here and me start think sey me want fi come out and get
revenge pon those people, all of those thinking… and me remember first Sunday I
woke up and I felt free and up to now I can’t explain that feeling…It’s not a ‘nice’
feeling, it’s a ‘freedom’ feeling I woke up and I just felt free, I just feel light. Then a
group of church people came and I went to church that day and after the preaching I got

After God ‘touched’ him he suddenly had a desire to seek after more of God. He chose

to learn how to read and soon started to read the bible.

“…after I got baptized me never understand anything about Christianity because I

couldn’t read. And what really move me, the Lord send me to school … how I can say
is the Lord, because before I got converted I used to fight the men who go school so it
must be the Lord who allowed me to go to school after I get converted. So I went to
school and in 3 months time I start to write my own letter and start to read the Bible..”

What factors have contributed to his spiritual growth and commitment to reject a life of future


DC began corresponding with the lady who became his wife after some years had

passed. He described her as a more mature Christian than he was. She encouraged him and

accepted him as he was. After learning how to read and write he pursued further studies, and

soon earned a diploma in Biblical Studies. The change that took place in his life inspired his

estranged family members to embrace and support him. Once he had been released from prison

he attended church regularly and received financial support. His pastor played the role of

mentor and ‘discipler’ in his life.

“I was in prison, I met my wife through a pen-friend…my wife wrote me and

encourage me and she help me and visit me in prison and I came out and married and
all those stuff.....when I came out of prison in 1998 I must say the Liguanea Covenant,
Pastor Findlay and the members of the church was a big help to me….They came into
prison and ministered. They have a prison ministry inside there. .. they just loved me,
and they saw Christ inside of me, and mentored me inside the prison and when I came

out they help me and give me a start, buy me a mattress and stove and all those stuff,
they help me with grocery at weekend time because when I just came out I don’t know
anybody, I don’t get any help from any family members, just Christians”.

Chapter Five - Discussion

Criminal activity is a phenomenon that has negatively affected societies worldwide.

This problem is perhaps most acute in Jamaica which has acquired the unenviable reputation of

having a high rate of violent crime. Foreign Policy, a prominent international publication, in an

article entitled Jamaica's Coke Rebellion, described Jamaica as "one of the most violent

countries on earth," ranking it in the world's top five, behind Colombia, South Africa and a

"rotating list of central American narco-states" in annual homicide indices (Retrieved from: One out of every 106 males over

the age of 15 in Jamaica is now a criminal deportee from the United States alone. Most of them

live in the capital city of Kingston. The police say they have been involved in hundreds of

murders and thousands of armed robberies (Retrieved from http://seattletimes.nwsource.

com/html/nationworld/ 2001793268_ export17 .html).

The Government of Jamaica and in particular the Ministry of National Security has

been the recipient of many reports and studies and have made serious attempts to solve the

problem in Jamaica, and although some progress has been made by various policies coming

from the implementation of report recommendations, the problem still persists. The National

Committee on Crime and Violence Reports that many recommendations have been put forward

over the years and many commendable programmes and interventions have been pursued.

Some success has been achieved at the conceptual and tactical levels but less at the grass-root

level where the common citizen sees, feels and reacts to issues. Why have previous policies

and initiatives not worked better? The reasons offered include too little investment in people as

well as under-utilized methods that have been proven to work.

The Ministry of National Security, implemented the Jamaica Reducing Re-offending

Action Plan (JRRAP) against the background of varying challenges faced by the Department of

Correctional Services including overcrowding in the two adult male reception correctional

institutions and the inability to provide specialized services for the mentally ill, substance

abusers and sex offenders. The JRRAP identifies the obstacles and challenges in pursuing a

law-abiding life for ex-offenders and persons deported from the United States and the UK, and

sets out the steps to be employed by the local Government in addressing these barriers. No

information on the success of the plan has been made available since its launch in June 2009.

In May 2010, Jamaica experienced an upsurge in violence surrounding the police

invasion of Tivoli Gardens as well as spurts of sporadic violence in Spanish Town. These

‘unstable’ conditions together with increased policing and incarcerations of ‘persons-of-

interest’ since the subsequent State of Emergency was enforced, has led to an increase in the

pressure on the Judicial System, more overcrowding in correctional facilities and additional

stress on the police force. Criminal deportees continue to be returned to Jamaican shores daily

and are at greater risk of recidivism since they are likely to be without a social support network

in Jamaica. Recidivism endangers communities and must therefore be minimised. However,

the Judicial System has been far from successful in keeping previous offenders from

committing new crimes.

Jamaica is a ‘Christian’ country which is famous for the proportionately large number

of churches per square mile. The average Jamaican was raised in church and is familiar with

the Christian Gospel. It is not uncommon for known criminals to be arrested or found dead

with a New Testament in their back pocket. Asking for prayer is the typical way for a Jamaican

to reach out for help when in need. The unique blend of training in theology and psychology

makes a Pastoral Counsellor the perfect choice when selecting personnel to attend to the

mental health needs of the prison population. The Prison Chaplain will be able to offer ongoing

ministry and spiritual support to incarcerated criminal offenders, but the necessary behavioural

changes and cognitive reshaping is best done by someone who can also discern the spiritual

needs of the client and address them.

Research studies have revealed that secular efforts at rehabilitation have been

unsuccessful in preventing recidivism. Not one of the various approaches to psychological

counselling has been able to demonstrate success statistically in helping rehabilitate despite

psychotherapy being proven to be effective with most populations.

Why, then, have psychotherapeutic efforts been unsuccessful in reducing recidivism

rates within the prison population? James Slobodzien (2004) suggests that “it is more than

likely possible that the ‘psychotherapy’ (offered by psychologists, psychiatrists and social

workers) has not been made accessible or affordable to the prison population”. He goes on to

state that “it is also probable that this type of psychotherapy is not meeting this (prison)

population’s social, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs”.

The Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans (Rom. 12:2) that we should not “conform any

longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you

will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. Paul

also states in Second Corinthians (2 Cor. 10:4) that “the weapons we fight with are not the

weapons of the world…they have divine power to demolish strongholds”. Since the principles

of practical theology can be learnt, these principles can be used to challenge any unbiblical,

anti-Christian beliefs. This ‘Christian psychotherapeutic method’ (Slobodzien, 2004) can help

inmates give up self-destructive philosophies and their consequent damaging emotional

reactions that tend to perpetuate their criminal life-styles. If the root of all crime emerges from

the sinful nature of man then the ‘church’ should take more responsibility for the rehabilitation

process. If Christian conversion has a direct correlation to a positive self-image and identity,

then Pastoral Counsellors can provide valuable insight to the prevention, intervention and

rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

The purpose of this research was to explore the significance of Pastoral Counselling to

the rehabilitative process of incarcerated individuals. Specifically, this study was aimed at

researching; (1) inmates’ perceptions about God and His role in their lives, (2) their

receptiveness to God’s intervention in their lives (3) their receptiveness to counselling and (4)

their perception of their own ability to become a newly transformed law-abiding individual.

This study also sought to discover what specific factors may have led to two former criminals’

transformation into outstanding positive role models.

This chapter will summarize and discuss the research results, with an attempt to

integrate results with existing literature in the area. Implications of the findings for offender

rehabilitation will be discussed, as well as recommendations for future application. The

limitations of this study and suggestions for future research will also be outlined.

Summary of Findings

Focus Groups

The inmates who participated in the Focus Groups all had similar concerns about their

prospects for successful rehabilitation. The discussions centred on their desire to continue their

education, get a job and be surrounded by positive influences and role models. Each participant

seemed optimistic about his ability to be ‘reformed’ from criminal to successful individual.

Structured interviews

The participants in the Structured Interviews gave responses that ranged from

surprising to more predictable given the common traditions of Jamaican families. Despite their

incarceration, four participants expressed a positive self-concept. Their verbal responses were

considered in collaboration with the manner with which they expressed themselves. Three

participants were seemingly more undecided about their self-concept. Their circumstances

seemed to affect their self-concept as they all spoke about feeling that they may not be as good

as they once were because of the bad things that they had done. They seemed confident that

they were not inherently bad but had made bad choices which they could learn from. One

participant described himself as bad. He expressed that only God could make him good again.

Two participants were recidivists (repeat offenders).

The strong Christian culture which exists in the Jamaican society left me with an

expectation of specific findings in the area of exposure to Christian life. As expected all the

participants prayed regularly, believed in God and read the Bible regularly. All participants had

been exposed to Christianity by family members during their childhood. Surprisingly,

one participant, despite having a church going mother, was not forced to attend church as a

child and went for the first time after his arrest. All participants expressed a conviction that

God could turn their life around. Interestingly, one of those young men was considering

Rastafarianism and was wearing dreadlocks at the time of the interview. He however, as with

the other participants, still read the Bible and prayed regularly.

All participants had received counselling in either a formal setting with their pastor or a

counsellor, or informal setting with a friend or family member. They all expressed an interest

in receiving additional counselling in the future.

Case Studies

The two Case Studies were essentially similar in the areas of upbringing, exposure to

criminal activity and social and emotional challenges. ‘RR’ and ‘DC’ both experienced

parental neglect as children. RR did not know his father until he was an adult and DC had a

passive father who was constantly abused by his mother and eventually replaced with other

men. Both spent their childhood years between their parent’s home and other family member’s

home. Stability did not exist for either of them as children. Rejection became the hallmark of

their daily lives. They experienced rejection from their family members and their classmates at

school and even teachers, as both were essentially illiterate at the completion of their primary

school education. Anger, bitterness, and revenge consumed them both until they were lured by

‘gun-toting law-breaking’ youths who made them feel like they could belong somewhere. The

newly discovered power and respect that they discovered as criminals was the best thing that

had happened to them so far. Both men were recidivists (repeat offenders) and spoke about

going to jail or prison and learning from more experienced and hardened criminals how to be

more successful as criminals when they got out. They both went on to commit even more

serious crimes before they were again incarcerated.

The prison experiences of both men involved exposure to Christian ministry and an

opportunity to change their lives. DC spoke about how much easier it was for him to serve God

in prison (“it’s very easy to serve God in prison”) because of the structure and ability to focus

on God without the distractions of survival in a challenging society.

Neither DC nor RR could read when they entered prison. Both men learned to read

using the Bible. Interestingly, the living Word of God was the first glimpse they had of God’s

will, power and purpose for their lives. Additionally, it is noteworthy that both men

experienced mentorship and spiritual discipleship both inside and outside of the correctional

facility, as well as the financial support they needed for daily survival outside.

Both men believed that they had access to wisdom, guidance, encouragement and

spiritual support after they were released from prison. They were able to find a church home

base and they both felt unconditionally loved and accepted by family and church members for

the first time. According to them, these factors all contributed significantly to the dramatic

reformation of their lives.

In summary, the findings of this study indicate that there is a general dissatisfaction

among inmates about the rehabilitative strategies being presently employed in the correctional

system. Inmates seem to feel inadequately prepared to meet the challenges they will face when

re-entering society. The young men interviewed appeared to have a significant exposure to

religion, and more specifically Christianity. They perceived God to be their source of

redemption and reformation. They all seemed to desire some type of counselling. The findings

of this study suggest that a desire to serve and please God is a significant contributor to inmates

who choose to live a transformed life of obeying the laws of the land rather than breaking

them. Findings also indicate that the combination of spiritual mentoring, discipleship and an

opportunity to earn an honest living may lead to a productive lifestyle characterised by service

to the community.

Relevance of Findings to the Literature

Arthur Hoyles, author of "The Church and the Criminal," asserts, "many a criminal has

been so completely transformed by the power of God that all desire to break the law has been

eliminated. Evangelical religion is a social asset (Hoyles, 1965).”

The present research findings generally confirm the literature on Christianity (Faith)

based rehabilitation of criminal offenders. The overall consensus reached in the literature is

that faith-based rehabilitation of criminal offenders is a significant and important contributor to

the reduction in recidivism rates. The benefits are reformative in nature as they foster positive

socialization and moral/spiritual development in offenders who, given the opportunity, choose

to commit to ‘working through’ personal and faith related issues within a framework of

religious support.

The fact that 25% of participants in the structured interviews and both Case Study

participants were recidivists, before they reached 25 years old confirms the prevalence of

younger persons everyday being lured into criminal activity and leaving prison without any

rehabilitation having taken place.

Undeniably, a viable support network is vital to the process of individual change and

social integration. Newly released prisoners without adequate mentorship and discipleship will

find it harder to live out their Christianity in the community. The most suitable method of

preparing inmates for the challenges and temptations they will face is to provide them with the

necessary therapeutic and spiritual journey that will transform their thought processes in such a

way that should reform their actions. Both Case Study participants were mentored by ‘pastor

figures’ who counselled them and journeyed with them through the process of learning about

God and themselves. The Word of God performed a deep transformative ‘cognitive-

behavioural work’ in their lives (“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any

double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges

the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” – Hebrews 4:12).

The desire expressed by inmates to receive counselling and be surrounded by positive

influences confirm Wyatt & Johnson’s (1990) findings that potential clients are willing to see

counsellors of varying religious values and they all believed in their helpfulness. Arnold,

Avants, Margolin, and Marcotte’s (2002) findings that clients believed that a spiritual-focused

therapy benefited their recovery in a multitude of ways is compatible with the inmates’ belief

that God was in control of their lives would make them even more likely to be receptive to

Christian counselling.

The InnerChange Freedom Initiative has had positive effects on prisoner rehabilitation

in the United States (Johnson, Larson, 2003). This data offers initial evidence that program

completion of this faith-based initiative is associated with lower rates of recidivism of former

prisoners. This initiative utilizes Christian mentorship, counselling and support to inmates

while they are incarcerated and upon release they have access to a Christian community where

additional support may be found. The Jamaican religious climate is much more receptive to

Christian influence and direction. It is safe to assume that if a similar type of support and

mentorship can be made available to inmates in Jamaican prisons through a Pastoral

Counselling programme along with the therapeutic interventions that they would provide,

Jamaican recidivism rates should also be considerably reduced. The testimonies of RR and DC

give support to the effectiveness of the approach undertaken by the faith-based rehabilitative

programmes in the United States.

Chapter Six - Conclusion

Several limitations of the present study are acknowledged:

 The relatively small number of prisoners interviewed may not give an accurate

representation of the areas investigated relative to the wider prison population.

 The lack of data from one major maximum-security correctional institution (General

Penitentiary) may affect the accuracy of the findings presented.

 The age restrictions of 17 – 25 may affect the type of responses given. Inmates who

were older and more ‘hardened’ may have responded differently from the young men


 This study was limited to the views of young incarcerated males and excluded the

views of incarcerated females – which may have been different.

 The two Case Studies are not necessarily a representative sample of all former

prisoners who faced similar experiences or challenges upon their release.


The present research suggests that even though Christian faith-based interventions have

rehabilitative potential “...with at least some offenders under some circumstances” (Andrew et

al. 1990), it is not being adequately supported in Jamaica’s correctional system. This is

unfortunate given inmates’ receptivity to increased Christian ministry in prison. In my view, it

would be dangerous for policymakers to deprive offenders who seek to be reformed of the

opportunity to be truly rehabilitated - especially given the high crime rates detailed in this

study. I am persuaded that the Church and the Government have a responsibility to provide

inmates who are receptive to Christianity with adequate Pastoral Counselling in the conducive

correctional environment.


 Directors of criminal rehabilitation programs should consider implementing cognitive-

behavioural programming as a primary or secondary component of their treatment


 The existing JRRAP programme should be modified to primarily include Pastoral

Counsellors in the list of mental health resource personnel.

 A roster of regular visits of these Pastoral Counsellors with the inmates should be

created and adhered to.

 When planning counselling sessions, priority should be given to inmates who are

scheduled to be released within the year.

 Christian ministry leaders should review available data on effective rehabilitative

therapies and use this information as a guide when selecting and training pastors,

counsellors and volunteers to work more effectively with prison counselling ministries.

 Psychologists and researchers should continue to develop the empirical data to provide

answers to the question ‘What Works?’ in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

 Christian psychotherapists should continue to research the short and long-term effects

of Christian psychotherapy and pastoral counselling on the rehabilitation of criminal



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The Institute for Theological and Leadership Development

Research Title

‘Rehabilitation as Reformation; Pastoral counselling for criminal offenders –

confronting Jamaica’s crime dilemma’.

In-Depth Interview Schedule

• Do you see yourself as a good/bad person?

• If good, why?

• If bad, do you think you can be a good person?

• Have you ever read the Bible?

• Do you believe in God?

• Have you ever attended church?

• Do you pray?

• If no, is there any special reason?

• If yes, do you believe that God hears you when you pray? Why?

• Have you ever received counselling? If no, would you want to?

• If yes, do you think it helped you? Why/why not?

Informed Consent Form

Letter of Approval for Research



(In the following two transcripts, KM is the researcher and ‘RR’ and ‘DC’ are the
interviewees. The transcripts are written ‘verbatim’ in the local vernacular of
Jamaican ‘Patois’).

In Depth Taped Interview with RR

RR: Come from St. Elizabeth, some people call it humble background but I call it poor; poor
poor background. I remember in my community when everybody have, what you call it,
electric light years after we were still using lamp or lantern. Going to school was very hard for
me, I remember I had to go to school barefooted. And I remember there were times for weeks
all \I eat was mango or orange cause I couldn’t afford to eat food. There were times when you
could go to the field and get a little food but when that season is over I am back to rough time
again. Within that period of time I remember I hang out with some guys who were in better
position than me and those guys use me to do their dirty work because through them know that
I had to rely on them for icymint, they use me to do their dirty work. During that period of
time me get real bad, so bad that even my mother at one time was afraid of me.

KM: so you just went on aggressive?

RR: Yes. The other thing was that I didn’t know my father until I was 20 and I was living with
some sisters who use to antagonize me … everyday say me mus’ go look fi my father and
leave their father so all of those things contributed to the hurt, the pain.

KM: about that time when you say your mother was afraid of you, how old were you?

RR: About 12/13. Came to Kingston when I as 15, so it was 12/13.

KM: You use to get into fights or what?

RR: I use to fight like everyday. There was a time when if one day pass and I don’t fight I
didn’t feel like I accomplish anything.

KM: Were you going to school regularly?

RR: Not regularly. Went to school but I leave school. As I said, I was going to school
barefooted, didn’t have any lunch money so I was embarrassed. I couldn’t deal with the school
thing. So I made up my mind that I was going to be a criminal.
KM: what was appealing about it to you?

RR: About being a gunman? I don’t know because the only time I see a gun a police me see
with it because that district it don’t have no crime, me jus’ hear bout gun this and gun that and
yu just fascinated and say bwoy it better me just be a part of that. I guess it’s the power that
people say comes with the gun and you just want to experience it. Understand? And then,
when I was in the classroom I think the teachers just let me feel low, them never motivate me,
or encourage me to learn and what I would hear it dunce and you gonna be a this and you just
mek up you mind that it better you do something that is more easy and you don’t sweat for and
you don’t have any embarrassment. The classroom was too embarrassing for me.

KM: What was your relationship with your mother like, apart from her being afraid of you?

RR: Me feel like she love me but the problem was the home because my mother had about 8 of
us and I was the only boy and the only one who didn’t have a father. But the rest of them my
mother husband was their father

KM: all seven of them had the same father?

RR: Yes. And you find out if I drink some water out of the father cup, you will hear, “put
dung me father cup!” I didn’t want to stay in the home ... as a matter of fact I didn’t feel
comfortable staying among my family and I wasn’t comfortable staying in the classroom
either. Everyday people would just beat upon you, curse you. My mother used to tell me that
I’m going to turn out to be a cruff. People used to say that I’m going to live in prison and my
mother quoted what they said. So I reached to the point where the condition around me mek
me just feel hopeless so you just behave according to … you know?

KM: so there was nothing else for you to think except what you hear people saying everyday?

RR: No. and I couldn’t read of course; so if you cant read … you talking about religion,
where religion is concerned the only consciousness I have about God is what he put there and
what I hear people say. I never go to church.

KM: and your mother didn’t?

RR: Later on she went to church. But my environment was an environment that deal with
witchcraft that what’s I used to

KM: so it was a part of the culture of your community?

RR: Right. I think when you are not getting proper parental guide, the environment can affect
you in a negative way. And then my mother couldn’t read and my stepfather couldn’t read. I

remember the first time my mother hug me was when I got married! You understand what I
mean? I never hear the word love … so that kind of environment bound to affect you in a
negative way .. is a mus.

KM: you are still in St. Elizabeth and you decided you are going to be a criminal?

RR: I was not certain if it was going to work out, I think I was just running my mouth, but

KM: so you never know any other youth your age who was involved in that kind of thing?

RR: Yes, there was this neighbour of ours, a guy who live in Kingston. He was a person who
was involved, you understand, people sey him have gun, I suspected that he had. He was my
good friend but I have never seen him with any, understand? But me used to like how him flex
because everybody used to respect him. Let me tell you something about being a gunman it
make people respect you and let’s say you’re from a home nobody respect you, nobody love
you or say anything good about you … and then you have you gun those same people behave
as if they are fearful, trust me. I think that’s what I love about that guy … a lot of people
didn’t like him in the community but because him have him gun dem havvi behave like dem
like him, and I think I loved that

KM: so even if it was just fear of him that made them react, you were satisfied with that?

RR: Yes, because I have never seen him with a gun, and most of the people who say so never
see him with one either but because him a town man people believe that him really have gun fi
true. Whether true or lie dem respect him, and me love what me see. What me see is that dem
respect him and that’s what I wanted. I came to Kingston at age 15.
First me live with some people in St. Ann.

KM: how did you come to live with those people?

RR: They say them want me, but is somebody them want to do them dirty work. Those
people use me to feed their pigs, plant their ground, they use me to look ‘bout goat and fowl.
To catch mongoose…. (laughter)

KM: Did they pay you?

RR: Pay what? All me get was food. Me had a pair of shoes, lady shoes … canvas like
material and it mash up – it was me best shoes; so me ask the lady if she could buy me a pair of
shoes and she say buy you what kind a shoes, after you is not my son. That day I was messed
up in me mind, because them used to use me to wash even their son clothes -- I was like a
house boy, clean house and all them kind a things. So I say I am doing all of this and dem
can’t buy me a pair of shoes? So one day I was cleaning the house and when I look under the
bed is a big suitcase and when I open the suitcase one whole heap a money! That time a never
know how to spend money else I would just tief everything. So what I did I just take out
enough and went back to St. Elizabeth and two days later I came to Kingston.

KM: so you ran away?

RR: Yeh man, me run way. Now what I had in mind when I came to Kingston was to go back
to school. Now my relative that I live with was running business, selling box drinks and ice
cream, so they use me to go and buy what they want and me never get to go to school.

KM: you want to go to school and they never send you?

RR: Yes. They told me that “its too late for you to go to school now, you already grow up”
“just try work and get some money”. But me a work and me nah get no money. I reach to the
point now where I hated them … I wanted to kill them. So me start plan with some guys fi rob
them and kill them. But it never work.

KM: so you actually tried it?

RR: Hmm. And I would steal their money and so forth. However by that time I was now
growing up, start to move with gangs… I mean I use to give so many trouble, me and my
friends, we used to bad, we used to lick down everybody on the street and when we can’t find
nobody to lick down we lick down cow and goat.

KM: lick them down with what?

RR: With stone. All this time I am telling you about, on the inside, now that I am looking
back, on the inside is as if I was crying out “help, somebody see me nuh” and nobody
wouldn’t see me. I mean I used to do some real stunt in order for people to see me but nobody
wouldn’t see me. Then there were few guys I the community who feel that I am a country
man so me no fe come from country and have so much talk. Me decide me mind to get a gun
because I am not going to live over my early childhood days where people used to just beat me
up and dem things deh. Not living it over, so me start to get real violent… I used to love see
blood, yeh man. Me used to just carve and cut up people. If me and somebody fight and me
nuh see blood it’s one of the saddest day in my life … when me see blood it mek me feel good.
Oh God help us. It so happen me start to get violent .. go dance and stab up people, fight with
the guys in my community fight with the people in my home and that kind a thing. By age 17 I
want to go back to St. Elizabeth where I was born .. dem time nuh me bad so me say me a go
back and show dem people sey me bad. Me try to buy a gun, but nobody would sell me one …
me try to rent one, nobody would. So you used to have a knife them call buck knife, so I
bought one and I use to work at this place where you could sharpen the knife on a machine so I
sharpened it back and front. And then me sey me a go back a country and anybody trouble me
a just kill them an go back a town! I remember one day I was playing football with some guys
and I remember praying that these guys would just kick me so we can develop a fight, and you
know nobody would do anything like that? So you know what I did, I start to kick down
people! And the man dem just get up and brush off themselves and gone bout them business.
One of them kick off the ball and kick me … and a fight develop. And about 5 of them dust
me off. When they turn me upside down I stab one of them … I was going for his heart. So

me sey me a go a town, my mother a cry and sey don’t run away because if you runway dem a
go lock her up. Me sey you can stay there. So me go a town and police come and lock me up. I
went to prison. Three months.

KM: which prison you went to?

RR: I went to Spanish Town. They lock me up in St. Elizabeth and I spent most of the 3
months in Black River lock-up. Then they brought me to Spanish Town. Then now I came
back out and at age 19 .. the same day when Gilbert blow I went back to prison for shop
breaking. And I get 3 months. And at age 24 I was back again. So this time was historical for
me in the sense that this was the time when I came in contact with Jesus.

KM: before you go into that, do you want a few moments to eat and then we talk back?

RR: No man talk, me can eat and talk!

KM: I want to find out the first time you went to prison, what was that period like for you? Oh
God it was so bad that I got saved.

KM: the first time?

RR: Yes, and then backslide when me come out. During that time there wasn’t any water in
the prison, one. Two, there wa shardly any food and if there was any them give it to you when
it smell bad. A group of guys start to plan sey them a go escape but me decide sey me nah
escape because a 3 months me a do. So the man dem cut them the grill and dem say anybody
who no come dem a informer and we a go kill them. So me plan out everything sey me a go
just escape and then it come like me start to hear voices … some a say go and some a sey nuh
go. Me listen to the one wey sey don’t go. About 12 guys escape and only 3 came back in
alive .. them kill most of them. One night while I was in the prison cell dem come put a half
mad man in the cell and this Indian guy beat the mad man every minute. So them tek out the
mad man and put him in a cell facing ours. And you know what the mad man did? About 12
o’clock one night the mad man throw the pail (with waste matter) into our cell … me had to
stand up the whole night, me couldn’t sleep. That was an experience!

KM: … fear of you life mek you get saved?

RR: Of course, I was afraid that me wasn’t going to make it out, so me sey let me serve Jesus.
But me never last. When I came out some guys start to test me faith and me sey to them,
“hello youth, cool yuself because me nuh fraid fe go back a prison”.

KM: so when you came out where you lived?

RR: I just came right back into Kingston

KM: who you had staying with in Kingston?

RR: Relatives … grandaunt and aunt…

KM: And they let you stay with them even though you were in prison?

RR: Them never want me to; but one of the things with me … me kind a have sweet mouth so
me work in myself. Then me went back to prison the day when Gilbert blow, and that
experience me don’t know if me can explain it with my own mouth for you to get the picture,
but that experience was really bad.

KM: which prison was it this time?

RR: I was at remand centre, and from remand centre to GP.

KM: I hear GP rough, true?

RR: Rough, but remand centre was rougher. Solitary. GP only rough because
_______(couldn’t hear this clearly) but prison. There is a difference between prison and
jailhouse, jailhouse more rougher than prison. When Gilbert blow , about 2 months without
light, 2 months without water … when you come near somebody them smell, trust me. The
bathroom .. my God, messy! The food was affecting my inside … I mean it was really bad …
your stomach couldn’t hold it.

KM: The second time when you went to prison for shop-breaking was it because you didn’t
have a job, didn’t have any way of earning money … why did you break the shop?

RR: Didn’t have a job, didn’t have any way of earning money, and follow friend.

KM: you think if you didn’t follow friend you would have still done it?

RR: The need was there but I think it was because of friends. I used to have some friends I
mean them big ..

KM: so the second time now when you came out, didn’t that very bad experience mek you not
want to go back to prison? I mean the way you describe it was so bad I would think that you
would try not to go back there?

RR: You see bad men out there, you think all of them want to do badness?

KM: some of them do

RR: Some of them. But I have spoken to a lot of bad bad people, and even if you don’t hear it
come out when you look at them and listen them good, you know that this is not what they
want. Let me tell you something if Jesus don’t touch you heart you can’t change no matter
what bad experience you have, never change. I mean I used to smoke drugs ..
KM: like what?

RR: Coke and ganja. Even though I did go to drug rehabilitation centre but that couldn’t help
me -- I have a cousin who was addicted and him go to drug rehabilitation centre till him weak
and even now him still on drugs.

KM: and you say is only Jesus can help him?

RR: As a matter of fact when him see me him hold down him head, because him want to serve
the Lord; but you see if God is talking to your heart and you don’t respond then you will never
get help. I mean I go through bad experience where man stab me and me almost dead me just
get better and come back out and who, a me that again. You can’t change without God.

KM: so the 3rd time, what you went in for the 3rd time?

RR: The 3rd time I went in for shooting with intent and illegal possession of firearm and
ammunition. However the police charge me for police shooting because the guy that I shot
they didn’t come forth and the police shot me so them have to build a case .. so they frame me
that I shot at them and then some negotiation and them drop the police shooting and charge me
for illegal possession of firearm.

KM: and you were 24 at that time?

RR: Yes.

KM: which institution you were this time?

RR: First went to HWT, secondly I went to GP, then thirdly I went to Gun Court and I left gun
court and come straight to me yard. Came out with a Bible under me arm.

KM: and what is it that made the change for you in prison?

RR: Well, I didn’t really make the change in prison, I made the change the same day I was

KM: the same day?

RR: The same day I was apprehended … I get a shot and the same day me pray and said God if
you save me I’m going to serve you.

KM: where were you shot?

RR: In my foot.

KM: and what made you say that … you thought you were going to die?

RR: Let me tell you the experience that I had. I was beaten severely so much more that I was
unconscious. I had hidden the gun and they wanted to get it so I was beaten so much .. while I
was in my unconscious state is as if my spirit left my body and I was floating in the air and I
saw my dead body on the ground and I heard a voice say to me that “if you don’t surrender to
me now you will never go back into that body” and right there and then I surrender my life to
the Lord. Next thing I know I woke up in hospital. When I woke up I felt different in every
part of me there was this different type of feeling. I just became a Christian. My development
was really in prison.

KM: so nobody led you to the Lord? Nobody prayed with you? It was your decision to say
Jesus I’m going to follow you?

RR: My decision.

KM: did you know what that meant?

RR: No. All me know me a go serve God. I think I never wanted to die. I think I made the
decision out of fear, because me never want dead …

KM: and you knew God was real and you knew that he was hearing you when you were
praying to Him?

RR: To tell you the truth I knew that I was going to get better and go for the gun and I wanted
to make certain that I have God on my side so I had a plan to trick God to come out.

KM: so you had a plan to trick God?

RR: Yes, to trick Him and just come out and go back to me old life You see when I was in
prison, living as a Christian because I got sentenced I went to court I wasn’t really checking
God, me just a sey me want get out of this because when me get out some bwoy a go dead.
just planning to trick God. To tell you the truth I just confess, say Jesus … and I think God .. I
hear people say God nuh force you to serve Him but I think God force me.

KM: Force you? Why wouldn’t you be able to say no?

RR: I could say no, I think what happened there was a choice … serve me or you dead!.

KM: you knew you would be dead?

RR: Of course, 8 policemen and all a them a fire gunshot, man a shoot after me head and shoot
after me belly and only one shot ketch me. I soon gone home, so me sey you know something
God, like how me soon gone home, let me serve you. But when I say force let me tell you
what I mean … God showed me that if I didn’t serve Him I would die, right? And I made the

decision. But even though I made the decision sey yes I’m going to serve you, I wasn’t
sincere; I was just saying I’m in trouble now so let me see if I you can help me out.

KM: don’t want time it didn’t matter to you if you died or not?

RR: Of course, there was a time in my life when death was nothing to me.

KM: but suddenly, that time it mattered?

RR: Right, suddenly, that time it mattered.

KM: you know that’s why I would say He didn’t force you, He gave you a will to live

RR: He gave me a will to live?

KM: yes, because you never had it before.

RR: Okay. Well, maybe maybe, me nuh know. But one thing I know I was trying to trick
God, I didn’t really want to get saved because you see the area that I am from, you don’t get
saved in them community there. I never willing to give up my friend and my thing was how I
am going to serve God and flex with my friends them?. So my thing was let me read the Bible
now, and as soon as Him help me and me come out a prison I just go back to my thing. And
there was a time when I was in prison I could literally feel God – literally, you know like when
you hug somebody? And I think I was searching for God and didn’t know that was what I was
doing and it so happened that I thought that because I feel so close to God I was going to get
off the case, but guess what happened? Me get sentenced! So me start get mad with God now
and say “God, how come you mek me get sentence?” a mean me pray everyday, me cry when
me a pray and you mek me get sentence? And I remember I didn’t understand much about the
Holy Spirit but now I believe it was the Holy Spirit and he said to me you can’t go out there
now because you are not ready and if you go out there you are not going to serve me. And it
was like two and half to three years before I came out of prison that I really considered myself
a serious Christian. So much so that me start say to God, “God if you find out say me nuh
change, don’t sent me out”

KM: What you think caused you to become so serious? What was happening to you in prison
as a Christian?

RR: Let me tell you what was happening to me. When I went into the prison cell I found a big
old bible, big bible that man have a smoke … tear out the leaf and smoke. And I secured that
bible and started to read it. First, I couldn’t read so me a go through it but even though me a
scan it and a go through I could feel that something was happening inside me. When a
rastaman came in and start help me where reading was concerned so me start understanding
certain things. So the bible became so real …I didn’t know that I could be in prison and feel so

KM: you said a rastaman, why was this rastaman helping you in reading the Bible?

RR: Him used to admire me just a go through the bible. Very intelligent rastaman. And one
day he asked me youth, you love the bible and me say yes and him say a good book man and
he say you understand it? And me say not really because me nah retain nothing when me go
through it.. and him say me know what your problem is, and him bring me through breaking
up the words in syllables, comma, etc. and he taught me those things and then I catch on to
them and start to and then I found out that a whole heap of thins were happening, one, when
me a talk to people me nuh sound like fool again, and two while other people were
complaining about the conditions me find out sey I wasn’t complaining, I have peace – nuh
that a no me! When people a mek riot and say them want justice and so on, them say you nah
join we, me say no man me cris’. And the condition never trouble me and I found out that
there was something new that was happening on the inside and that keep on pushing me and
pushing me until my confidence … until I remember one day I took sick in the prison and they
sent me to the hospital in the prison and the hospital had a dormitory. And this guy, I don’t
know if you ever heard of a guy name Jason Rowe who some years ago killed his girlfriend
using a hammer knock out his sister and his mother. He ended up in prison and me and him
became good good brethren and because of that guy I get the opportunity to stay round the
hospital dormitory. Normally you stay like one week or two weeks, I stayed round there for a
long time. Now it so happened that one day one of the Orderlies who worked at the hospital
came to me one day (they used to call me Shabba) and he said “Shabba, you a Christian?” and
me ‘fraid now, me say “Jesus, somebody find out!”. I was living under disguise. And him say
to me ‘answer me man’, then me say “yes, me a Christian, why you ask”? him say because
when you a sleep me hear you a praise God in a you sleep an me hear you a speak in tongues in
a you sleep, and to tell you the God truth, fear came over me, fear … not a dreaded kind a fear
it is a reverential kind a fear – me start fi say ‘ a wha a gwan’. And now I was convinced that
God is real, you understand.

Then now, before I got saved I was a DJ so me start to tek up back the DJ thing and me start fe
say me a go DJ fi God and me start to write some lyrics and when you look at the content of
the lyrics, trust me, people get saved because of the DJ in a prison. Man listen it and cry.
Because I used to just read the bible and write lyrics. And then now I found myself in a band
and while I was playing in the band (I used to play bass guitar), everybody was deejaying
slackness and I was the only person over there dj-ing gospel and I was the #1 dj over there. It
so happened that one day I prayed a prayer and me nuh even understand the prayer that me
pray … I read Genesis 30 something about Joseph and me remember me say ‘God, I want to
be like this in prison’ I want to be like Joseph .. and trust me, it happened. I was favoured by
warders, superintendent, prisoner, I was favoured. I was one of he prisoners who could stay
out of my cell. They would wake me up at 6 o’clock in the morning and me could walk about
and do anything me want to do and them nah lock me down until 10 o’clock in the night. And
all of that experience convinced me that God was real. Because previously I couldn’t live with
people for one minute and we nuh cuss and quarrel, and it wasn’t because I was fearful but
because something was happening. And I sound favour with the warders so much so that when
I came out of prison, John Prescod (if I did know I would carry something come show you)
right now I have an award at me home that I got from the prison authorities for exemplary

conduct.. When I came out of prison I met Colonel Prescod and a man named Rev. Maddiz
who was the Chaplain, they were having a prayer breakfast at Devon House … normally they
invite like Portia Simpson, Ben Claire and Justice Wolfe to be the guest speaker and that year
they ask me to be the guest speaker! Me sey when me a go say?!
Now the lady who called my house she said we have never done anything like this because this
is a well established thing and she said but somehow we feel as if we should ask you to be the
speaker. And I was the guest speaker that year. Justice Wolfe was one of the persons who,
when I was going to court I was appearing before him and when I finish talk you see … I mean
it was like standing ovation. Justice Wolfe and everybody get up and a clap. Trust me, God is
a good God.!

And at my church they were having a prayer vigil and they invited all of the big people dem in
a Jamaica (PM, Leader of Opposition, GG, and people from different sectors of the society)
and I ministered there so much so that the GG cried and these little things just showed me that
God was really with me. I ministered there and it was like headline .. fi days it was headline.

KM: What I am curious about though, when you just came out of prison how did you survive,
where did you go back to live how did you get money?

RR: When I was in the prison you used to have some church groups that come in there; one
from Herro Blair church, one from W. Blair church and some other groups. Now I got
baptized in prison and it was W. A. Blair who baptized me. And from he baptized me there
was this connection … so me start to preach like him, walk like him, talk like him, do
everything like him. So I decided that when I came out I was going to his church …
Went to his church for a while and God used him financially to help me but there was this
couple from his church who used to be visitors they took me the same day I came out from
prison to live at their home. They said they don’t want me to go back to the area as yet,
imagine, Bro. Morrison and his wife (his wife is now dead) and I went to their home. I
remember the day I went to their home his wife was like trembling because she want to help
me but she can’t read but she nuh sure she could trust me either. I remember the day I went
into her home she say, “Roderick, this is my grandson Craig, and my grandson Brian”, and
when she reach to the girl named Trudy she say “Roderick, this is Trudy, don’t let me down
you know Roderick”! and I lived at their home for maybe a year and when I leave there I came
to Kingston, the church that Bro. Blair pastor at Waltham Park I went there and that is how I
started to get my development because I was now preaching in the prayer meeting, preaching
on the bus, go back in the prison to minister, go in the rum bar and all them things.

KM: and how you got paid? How you earned a living?

RR: Boy, I am wondering myself. God just used people to help me. You know what happened
to me some years ago … God give me a new wardrobe and me just find myself just a give
away clothes ..people used to just give to me and give to me all my life. And I was living with
my relatives. That was a battle though, living with them after getting saved, because all my life
they used to be afraid of me and now me get saved they were like thorns in my flesh. One of
my cousins, named Carol she was like everyday wondering if me really save fi true. She say

she don’t believe it because a leopard never change his spots. While she was having doubts
whether I was saved or not they could put down the money under the lamp and hide the money
in the draw (the same place where I used to go and steal it) and guess what, it remained there!
God was just good

KM: is there any one person you can think of who was there all along for you when you
needed help? When you faced difficulties, was there anyone ….?

RR: The same man named Bro. Morrison who took me out of prison, he was the one who
moulded me, he was he one who helped me to discover the calling of God, he as the one who
said to me ‘Roderick you can’t work yet” when everybody else a say ‘go look work, go look
work’, him say to me, ‘no Roderick you can’t work yet’ him say you have to go to Bible
school and develop yourself. Him say anyhow you go tek a work now it is going to detour you
from what God call you to do. He was the one who see what God called me to do, I never even
see it. There were people who used to say I was lazy, and me don’t wrong them because they
couldn’t see anything, me couldn’t see it either, but Bro. Morrison saw it.

KM: do you still have a good relationship with him?

RR: Of course! Up to last week I went to his home and planning to do some work with him.
Bro. Morrison is a good person. He is not one of them person who is influential in the church
but he is one of the person who I believe is very sensitive to the Spirit of God, and so forth.
Then in Kinston, there were other people who used to help me out, but I don’t know if you
know that everywhere you go you have manipulators? There were some people who used to
help me but after a while them just give up when me don’t do what them want me fi do. There
were people who would give me anything but they wanted to control me, but I am a very
strong person so when they found out that … there were times when I choose to suffer because
I wouldn’t behave how them want me to. I am not a dressy dressy person. They want me to
dress up in a choke up choke up something and all that because I am a minister,

KM: all the time?

RR: Yes. but I believe in being me ….

KM: I am going to stop this now …

In Depth Taped Interview with DC

KM: OK, tell me where you were born, who you grew up with …what was your childhood

DC: Well, I born in Kingston, Cross Road area, I grow up with my grandmother in Jones

KM: What was your life like? Did you have a lot of friends?

DC: My life was like .. I grow up rude, give a lot of trouble. I remember my mother, like she
never have the experience to grow up a child – you understand? And my father was a soft man
and more time I do some things and dem ignore it. More time me go school and fight and
when me come home dem laugh and is like nothing to dem. Me mother jus do things bare-face
before me. My mother have all man with me father and bare-face before me .. she nuh care.
And all my life me grow up me see all these things before me. I remember my mother used to
beat up my dad, regular.

KM: with her hand?

DC: Yes, with her hand. More time my mother send me to the country, to St. James. Went to
school in St. James. Give trouble, nuff trouble and nobody couldn’t comfortable round me, so
I was there until my mother send back fi me and I was in Kingston again. My mother took me
again to Montego Bay. In 1977 I came back to Kingston and my mother and my father break
up and is there my life start to tear apart. When I came back to Kingston and saw that my
mother and my father is not together, my mother have a different man … I was there for
around 4 months and the man start beat up my mother every minute now and turn round want
beat me up to, and beat up my brother and my sister. Me never like it. And I decided that I was
goin’ run away. I run away and went to Jones Town .. in 1978

KM: Who was in Jones Town?

DC: My grandmother … my father mother. When I’m in Jones Town I start to see real
badness so I figure that is the right place I come now. I saw man with gun and me sey me want
a gun; I saw man rob people and me sey me want rob people to the same way. I saw man go
jail and come back in the area and me sey me me want go jail to. 3 main things: go_____ and
go jail (me want go jail to), man have gun (me want gun too) man rob people (me want rob
people to) because these were the in things in the area.

KM: I don’t understand why going to jail was the in thing.

DC: Let me explain – having gun, going to jail and robbing people was the in thing in the area
– if you is not a robber or a gun man or nuh go to jail the woman dem nuh recognize you so. If
you work in the area the woman dem nuh rate you dem want the thief, the gunman and the

jailbird so I thought this was the best thing because most of the nice girls dem love off the
gunmen and the robbers so me sey bwoy me want me a robber.

KM: How old were you at that time?

DC: 12. I said I want turn a robber. This was 1979.

KM: were you in school?

DC: I was in school but I didn’t settle down, because me did confuse because my mother have
me up and down the country and all over the place and dem way deh so I never settle down.
So when I in Jones Town and saw man with gun and all that, I can remember the first time I
rob somebody. Anytime taxi come inna the area the man dem always rob the taxi man dem.
So one day, my personal experience robbing somebody one day a taxi drove down the road and
I don’t see none of the tiefing man dem so I went out and draw me knife and just jook after the
taxi man, and the taxi man laugh when him see the little piece a tool inna me hand and from
that now me get big inna myself sey because me want be that type of person … till man start
give me gun fi hide, man start send me fe shot and all dem ting deh and me just start grow up
in a it. Me can remember 1983 when me was 16 I bruck a place in New Kingston and I was
wanted by the police for housebreaking and larceny. But the police couldn’t find me because
the police were looking for a Chinese man and I don’t have any Chinese hair … I just have the
Chinese last name but I don’t have the hair so the police pass me everyday and don’t know is
me till one day me think sey all the while me sey me wan’ go jail and me get a chance now fi
go jail ... so me go up a HWT police station and stop one a the police and tell dem sey a me
name ‘such and such’; the policeman sey ‘come outa the jail yard, come outa the station yard
bwoy’. And me there a gwaan badder and badder and next policeman come up and sey come
here man and he found out that me involve inna the break-in in New Kingston and me call
some more man name and I was charged with housebreaking and larceny. And then me inna
jail now with some more experienced gunman and tief and all kinda man me end up with.

KM: where did you serve that?

DC: Half-Way-Tree jail. And when man start talk bout dem experience and me start learn
from dem, those things start grow inside me, you understand? That’s why I believe that
anyone have them child … keep them far from certain environment. That’s why I have my
daughter right now, I don’t send my daughter a certain school, me jus’ prefer fi jus’ keep her
away because me believe that sometime the environment where a person grow it can cause
dem fi go wayward. While me in jail man talk how dem do certain things, man have dem gun
book inna jail, so I came out of jail well trained! So when I came out of jail 1983 August and
get involved in a gang; I came out and start pick pocket, grab chain and all those stuff. My
relatives them now, dem start to draw away from me .. I don’t believe you should draw away
from a person, that person need help, I needed help! But everybody draw away and sey go
‘way you a tiefing bwoy – me can’t go a my mother yard, me can’t go a nobody yard,
everybody draw away from me, so me deh pon me own now, so a so my tiefing friend dem
comfort me, a fi them house me live so me get the chance fi do anything me want now because

no one around me encourage me, no one, you understand me. And criminal, tief , and a
gunman it’s just like a man who smoke coke (cocaine) and him get addicted to the coke. When
him smoke it him feel nice. Same way a gunman, a man who fire gun after him fire the 1st shot
and so it get down inna him system. So one time nobody couldn’t tell me sey anything wrong
with it because a something that make me feel nice, it just become a part of me, me feel lively,
me feel nice when I reach 20 now I start fi realize sey dem lifestyle yah no right but when I
check it out I can’t leave. I don’t have no trade, I don’t have no one to go to so might as well
me stick it out and continue ‘til me dead because me start already …

KM: What made you think that the lifestyle wasn’t right?

DC: because after a person reach certain age you start fi think certain way, say a teenager
think different from a person in them 20’s

KM: You think maturity?

DC: me get fi understand in my early 20’s sey them tings ya a stupidness but me already get
cornered, me can’t read because me never learn nothing a school, and me don’t have a trade,
so I say bwoy I’m just going to continue rob people and fire gun till me dead. So is there now
me get involved inna difficult crime, like murder and all those things. So I went to prison 1990
for murder.

KM: Which prison?

DC: Spanish Town and Gun Court. I spend 3 years in Spanish Town and 5 years in Gun
Court. While I was there me never change right away because I was planning that anytime I
come out back on the road I’ll gwaan wid the same thing and revenge my punishment..

KM: So didn’t you like going to jail? So why revenge? Why would you want to get revenge
for something you wanted?

DC: Me start to blame my mother’s carelessness, me start to blame some other relatives them
say a dem mek me inna here and me start think sey me want fi come out and get revenge pon
those people, all of those thinking. So me sey me goin’ start from inna prison so me get
involved with gang inside a prison and then I get (hijacked?) from Spanish Town prison over
war. I was in Gun Court prison in December ’93 and me remember 1st Sunday I woke up and
I felt free and up to now I can’t explain that feeling, but I will try and try to mek you
understand. It’s not a ‘nice’ feeling, it’s a ‘freedom’ feeling I woke up and I just felt free, I just
feel light. Then a group of church people came and I went to church that day and after the
preaching I got saved. I never even understand the ‘saved’ thing.

KM: When you said you felt free, this was a feeling that you wanted more? What made you
go to church that day?

DC: me haffi say is the Holy Spirit, although I never understand it. After the preaching them
have the altar call and then them say who want to baptize and I set down my name and I
baptize 2 weeks after and after I got baptized me never understand anything about Christianity
because I couldn’t read. And what really move me, the Lord send me to school … how I can
say is the Lord, because before I got converted I used to fight the men who go school so it must
be the Lord who allowed me to go to school after I get converted. So I went to school and in 3
months time I start to write my own letter and start to read the Bible, and it encourage me and
out of that same experience God bless me with my wife.

KM: Were you in prison still?

DC: Yes I was in prison, I met my wife through a pen-friend. Some of my bredren them me
buck dem up one night pon the corridor and them say ‘Chang you mek pastor baptize you and
you can’t read and one of them wrote a letter from me … seeking a pen-friend. And my wife
wrote me and encourage me and she help me and visit me in prison and I came out and married
and all those stuff. And the same community where I used to be bad the Lord send me back
there and me start some missionary work over there and people got saved

KM: That’s Majesty Gardens?

DC: Majesty Gardens, yes build a church there.

KM: Tell me, when you came out and you got married, was there anybody in your life who
was helping you other than your wife? Some pastor, friend who was a Christian, anybody –
who did you talk to about ..?

DC: when I came out of prison in 1998 I must say the Liguanea Covenant, Pastor Findlay and
the members of the church was a big help to me.

KM: How they knew about you?

DC: They came into prison and ministered. They have a prison ministry inside there .. they
just loved me, and they saw Christ inside of me, and mentored me inside the prison and when I
came out they help me and give me a start, buy me a mattress and stove and all those stuff,
they help me with grocery at weekend time because when I just came out I don’t know
anybody, I don’t get any help from any family members, just Christians. When I decided to
get married, the church was behind me again, they help me and encourage me and my wife.
My wife is a mature lady, that’s why.

KM: And your wife, has she given her life to the Lord?

DC: Oh yes, 1 year before me. She’s mature … my wife help me and I really proud of her.

KM: Did you ever ask her what cause her to want to meet you and want to write to you?

DC: She say that it’s the Lord .. she don’t know but the Lord allowed her. Right now she
presently studying for nurse and I really give God the glory. One thing I have to say is only
God can change you .. you can’t change yourself. And it’s very easy to serve God in prison.

KM: It’s easier to serve God in prison … tell me about that.

DC: In prison you deh one place, you get time to study, you get time to pray and it more easier
.. out a road here wider, with noise and all; temptation is everywhere but when you inna prison
it more easy and I have a better relationship with God but when I came out in the wider world
now and see everything before me so I believe that if the Lord never build me up and give me
certain conviction; I was the leader in the prison for the church and they appointed me as the
leader and that give me confidence because I had a low self esteem and that alone is a
testimony for me. Me and my family was restored before I came out of prison – my mother,
my sister, my dad, everyone.

KM: How did that happen?

DC: The warder for the prison go and tell them that me change and them hear the news and
them behave different and it encourage me. So when I came out now everybody say me
change and it encourage me. And then when I look and see how God allowed some Christian
people to hug me, they never distant me. I can say that who the Son sets free is free indeed;
and if any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature. The people dem hug me, you
understand? Hug me right away, people deal with me like me never did go prison! And it
encouraged me. Even now people deal with me like me never go prison. When I look and see
my wife, how a girl love me so …you know. Because right now I can recommend people to
open bank account and get job so all those things encourage me. Most of the men in prison
and men who do crime have a low self esteem, they believe that is only one set of people
recognize them. They look on the man/woman up down and say is ‘uptown people dem’,
people in higher class … but God don’t look on you like that and when you know God and
have a personal relationship with God you get to understand that no uptown people no better
than me and what that man have me can have it to. Look pon me, I couldn’t read and (now) I
pass my subjects and right now I am presently in school and I believe I can go further. Right
now I have a diploma in ? (Biblical/Pastoral Study?). And 3 or 4 to 5 years probably I may
have a degree and this is the way the Lord is showing me say look here man, there’s more,
there’s more … Only Jesus alone can change a man, yes only Jesus. A man who involve inna
crime, and inna drugs .. him will change but it’s difficult … difficult. And when the sin get
down in you system it hard fi come out, hard fi come out, so when men do crime they need a
spiritual change. Give them some money and dem spend it off and come back home… only
Jesus can change a man.

KM: Do you know of anybody who was praying for you while you were in prison that would
cause God to just intervene in your life?

DC: I thank God for the prison ministry … they did a lot.

KM: so you think they sowed seeds in your life and something happened?

DC: Yeah man, they prayed for me daily..

KM: When you were a child, before you went to prison did you ever go to church, or have any
kind of religious background?

DC: My aunt and my grandmother used to take me to church, but I was young then and did
just go to church to mek them feel good

KM: So you don’t think while you were going to church in those days any little thought could
have gotten into your system during those times like ‘I wonder if God is real’, ‘I wonder if God
loves me’? You think anything like that?

DC: Me always believe when me growing up sey God is real but me never take it serious,
because most criminals out there walk with Bible … I used to walk with my Bible. I used to
read Psalm 37 – when I talk ‘bout read I mean just look on it, you understand, and always say
‘God protect me, God understand’. I used to blame my mother .. and the low self esteem just
build up inna me, you know?

KM: when you left prison, before you got saved, you seem to have been very angry at your
family; did you ever talk to anybody or get counseling for your anger?

DC: No, I didn’t get any counselling

KM: You were just delivered?

DC: Yes, I was delivered

KM: So you never had any struggles that you still needed help with, in any area of your life?

DC: Yes, me have struggles and me get counseling yes, right now me have areas that me
struggling in but me pray and believe that God can help me. You see, that’s why you see God
use me so in the inner city because me understand the people in the inner city. When you start
talking to a man in the inner city, ‘prison’ is what come out of their mouths, dem say ‘bwoy
you nuh know wha me go through … you live up de so you don’t know what me go through.’
This is the first thing that come to their minds – that you don’t know what them go through..
There was this bad, bad man who died … a wanted man (wanted for around 20 murders), he
called me one day and a cry .. the man a cry wid him gun pon him. And him say ‘pray fi me
Chang, pray fi me … you were there too and you understand. And him say he was wanted for
many murders but most of them him not guilty. And when me start encourage him about
Christ , it look impossible to him. So if Christians can find some way to target these men in
this country who commit these crimes, things would be better. But you have some people
distant some people, but you have to understand that the Holy Spirit work in everyone different
... the Holy Spirit work inside of me as an evangelist (I’m presently a Pastor) and I know how

to talk to the men in the inner city. For instance, if you call me to teach me will teach but me
know sey is not there my calling is … I am an evangelist,, you understand? If you call me now
to do some evangelist work me just feel free. If Christians would work in the area in which the
Lord call them, it would be better. People in the church who have the special gifts in certain
areas, the church leader them back them off and dem (church leaders) try do it. Look here, I
am not an intellectual person but God use me to start a church, you understand. And some
people would say, ‘no man him nuh ready fi that yet’, but God use me to start a church.

Same way when I went to Bible school they asked for subject, 4 subject, and if you don’t have
the subjects you have to take a written test and get over a certain grade. When I went there and
take the test, I fail it… get 40-odd and them turn me down; they told me that I can’t do the
work at Bible school based upon my brain and they push up other people. And I beg my way
through and share my testimony with them and they give me a chance … and I graduate with a
diploma and get bigger grade than some of the other persons! And right now I am involved in
ministry and there is a lot of work in the Kingdom. So when a man is gifted in an area, allow
him … free him up, because there are people out there who him can reach that you can’t reach.
I remember when I was in prison, I’m in the parade one morning and the warden a count off
the inmate them, and there was a warder there who used to smoke ganja and curse bad words
and when I say to him ‘sir you shouldn’t be behaving that way, it should be us behaving that
way’, and him get ignorant right away because me touch him corn; because him wondering
where this inmate get the intelligence, so it is a surprise. So when you find man like me in a
Majesty Gardens now, it is a surprise to people dem down there, just like the woman at the
well when she got saved and go tell her community other people got saved because dem say ‘a
that woman dey who me know’. So your personal experience have a lot to do.

When people see me right now them can’t believe. I remember I went to Montego Bay and
saw this youth who me and him used to par and me say wha’ happen and him look and say ‘me
know you face, a who you again’? And when me call me name it couldn’t believe .. I know I
change, I know that God did something in my life so that right now my life is a testimony to
other people, yes man.

DC: you have any other question you can ask?

KM: I don’t think so … I’m going to stop it …