"Keepin' my mind right": Identity maintenance and religious social support in the prison context

Academic Article


  • It is not uncommon for inmates to experience religious conversions in prison. These conversions allow inmates to portray themselves in a prosocial light and help them to establish a sense of control in their current lives, regardless of their past. Despite the value of these conversions, maintaining a new outlook of one's self is remarkably difficult. Using semistructured interviews with 63 inmates who had undergone a religious conversion, the authors examine the process that they engaged in to keep these new senses of self. The narratives suggest that they relied on various social support mechanisms to keep themselves focused and inspired. Specifically, they stressed the importance of connecting with positive others in formal and informal settings, sharing their stories with those in need, and reflecting on their daily choices. It is through these strategies that inmates keep the inspiration and focus to "keep their minds right." © 2009 SAGE Publications.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kerley KR; Copes H
  • Start Page

  • 228
  • End Page

  • 244
  • Volume

  • 53
  • Issue

  • 2