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‘The resurrection after the old has gone and the new has come’: understanding narratives of forgiveness, redemption and resurrection in Christian individuals serving time in custody for a sexual offence

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Research has shown how religion is associated with numerous positive effects including enhanced mood, increased feelings of hope, increased altruistic behaviour, improved ability to cope and also reducing people’s involvement in delinquent and criminal behaviour. However, this has also been contested with some arguing that religion can have criminogenic effects. Whilst there is a growing body of research concerning the effect (criminogenic or positive) of religion on offending, there is currently a paucity of research focusing on sexual offending and religion. The aim of this study was to explore and understand the effects that religious beliefs have on individuals with sexual convictions’ sense of self, identity, their thoughts about the future and on their daily lives in prison. The results focus on a centrally important superordinate theme related to forgiveness and redemption. The analysis unpacks participants’ narratives of forgiveness and the impact such narratives have on participants. A key finding from the data in this study was that religious beliefs and being forgiven by a higher power appeared to facilitate redemptive selves and the enacting of these selves. Implications for practice and limitations are discussed.
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Keywords: Christian; IPA; Sexual offenders; qualitative; religious; sexual offending

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sexual Offences Crime and Misconduct Research Unit, Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Publication date: January 2, 2020

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