Francis Davis discusses the role of religion in the prison system:
So how could I be surprised to hear, from the thoughtful inspector of prisons, Ann Owers, that inmates in today’s institutions were turning to Islam as a source of consolation? Some of them were also, she suggested, converting to join a group which could protect them. A natural enough urge. Prisons function as social systems with hierarchies, informal rules of justice, non-cash currencies and the opportunity to learn from the very wildest of our criminals. You would have to be pretty unique to be totally ready for the experience. God might fill the gap. And so what if the motivation isn’t always entirely spiritual? In times gone by the playwright Brendan Behan had observed that Catholicism was more popular than Protestantism in his jail – because Catholic prisoners got out of their cells twice on a Sunday for both mass and benediction rather than the single service Protestant alternative.
Owers observed that prison officers were treating Muslims as a single block. If that allegation is true – and it certainly used to happen with the Irish – it suggests trouble in the making. Things can get sloppier still when race and religion are conflated. In the process many forget that young Muslims can be more influenced by video games and parents, brothers and teachers than by hardline versions of their faith.
Read more at Cif Belief.