The Prison Religion Project


The Prison Religion Project serves as a bridge to greater understanding in this important intersection of religious pluralism, prisoner rights, and public policy.


Why a Prison Religion Project?

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) requires, among other things, federal and state correctional authorities to accommodate religion in prisons in a way that does not substantially burden inmates’ religious practice. Federal correctional authorities are also subject to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). However, the application of these requirements has resulted in much uncertainty in many jurisdictions and even resistance in some. The Prison Religion Project strives to address these issues by providing educational materials and a forum for inclusive discussion about accommodation of religious diversity in prisons.

Research Dialogue Method

The Center brings together officials who oversee chaplaincy and religion in correctional institutions in dialogue with one another and the Center's facilitators to work through issues in law, policy, and institutional culture for greater understanding of religious diversity and religious accommodation. Through such dialogues interfaith leadership is employed for institutional change. To learn more, see Dr. McGraw's chapter "From Prison Religion to Interfaith Leadership for Institutional Change," in Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New FieldEboo Patel, Jennifer Howe Peace, and Noah Silverman, eds. (Beacon Press, 2018).

Helpful Links

The Pluralism Project at Harvard/Prisons/Selected Links - Provides links to religious organizations involved in prison ministry and issues.

"Enforcing Religious Freedom in Prison" – United States Commission on Civil Rights

"Religion in Prisons: 50 State Survey of Prison Chaplains" – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's Resource on RLUIPA - Addresses prison religion cases and other cases under RLUIPA.