Religion does its best to fill the vacuum in prisons with an unconditional welcome

29 May 2014 | by Peter Stanford

There are all sorts of easy conclusions to reach on reading of the high proportion of Catholics behind bars in this country, as reported in these pages this month. If one in five prisoners is Catholic, according to Ministry of Justice figures, compared to roughly one in 12 nominally so in the population, then the most immediate response is that there must be something terribly awry with our belief system, otherwise we wouldn’t be so over-represented. Much the same simplistic logic dogs the discussion about Muslims. With around 14 per cent of the jail population Muslim, as against 5 per cent of those at large, there is a constant debate about what’s going wrong, most recently a BBC Panorama documentary, “From Jail to Jihad?”, warning that prison was a place of relig

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