Not Just 'Visitors' to Prisons: The Experiences of Imams Who Work Inside the Penal System

11 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2003

See all articles by Basia Spalek

Basia Spalek

University of Birmingham

David Wilson

Birmingham City University - School of Law

Abstract

This article presents the results of a study exploring the consequences of working within a Christian-dominated penal system upon a group of Imams who regularly visit prisons. The Islamic religion is currently the fastest growing non-Christian religion in British prisons and so it was considered to be important to document the experiences of the spiritual guides of this faith. Interview data revealed that the Imams face many disadvantages as a result of belonging to a non-Christian religion, amounting to a form of 'institutional racism'. However, many of them revealed that they were not the passive victims of institutional racism (and sometimes direct racism also), but rather struggled against their material conditions in order to force the prisons in which they work to respond to their own needs and those of the prisoners whom they serve. Nonetheless, it appears that any opportunities for change are limited by the structural imbalance between Christian and non-Christian faiths within the penal system.

Suggested Citation

Spalek, Basia and Wilson, David, Not Just 'Visitors' to Prisons: The Experiences of Imams Who Work Inside the Penal System. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 40, pp. 03-13, February 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=440227

Basia Spalek (Contact Author)

University of Birmingham ( email )

Birmingham B15 2TT, VT Birmingham B15 2TT
United Kingdom
0121 415 8027 (Phone)

David Wilson

Birmingham City University - School of Law ( email )

Birmingham
United Kingdom

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