Pepperdine Partners with Prison Fellowship International for Study on Prison Program Efficacy in Colombia

On Tuesday, July 18, 2023, Pepperdine University and Prison Fellowship International
(PFI), in partnership with the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute of Colombia
(INPEC) and Prison Fellowship Colombia (PFC), announced a multiyear in-prison study
within Colombia’s prison system. The first of its kind, this experimental study will
measure the efficacy of international prison programming in offender rehabilitation,
recidivism reduction, and general correctional reform and aims to assess how effective
the PFI and PFC programs are in rehabilitating a prisoner’s attitude, beliefs, and
behavior. Measured by changes in individual behavior, family unity, and prison culture,
the study’s findings will be used to identify best practices that drive meaningful
change in the lives of prisoners and their families.

“Social problems like crime are not easily solved and remain a global issue as solutions
require holistic approaches that draw upon the best of different sectors, both public
and private, working in tandem,” shares Byron Johnson, executive director of Pepperdine’s
Center for Faith and the Common Good. “This unique partnership brings together the
leadership of government (INPEC), rigorous university-based research (Pepperdine University),
and exemplary faith-based intervention programs (PFI), providing an unprecedented
opportunity to succeed in improving Colombian prisons, reducing recidivism, and reforming
offenders.”

For the past 20 years, PFC has actively served the country’s prison population and
currently has access to more than 83 percent of the nation’s prisoners through its
portfolio of ministry programs. The organization has been pioneering innovation within
the prison system by developing several PFI programs, as well as restorative justice
initiatives and for prison reform advocacy. With more than 113,000 prisoners across
132 prisons, Colombia’s prison system is one of the largest in the world, and the
new study will follow participants in 12 Prison Fellowship programs throughout eight
different prisons for at least five years. Launching October 2023, thousands of prisoners
and their families will be studied over the course of the evaluation. 

Results are expected to be published within the first year of the study. The publication
of these research findings, as well as subsequent training of prison ministries and
correctional leaders around the world, is expected to promote the widespread adoption
of prison programming best practices, especially within the Prison Fellowship program
portfolio. The findings will also be used by the Colombian government to improve the
national prison system and will be incorporated into the training curriculum for prison
guards. 

For more information on upcoming studies and research, visit Pepperdine’s Center for Faith and the Common Good website.

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