“How do Latino Pentecostal Street ministries offer “rehabilitation and redemption” to criminalized individuals in a context of mass incarceration and carceral control? ”
This multi-contextual ethnography employs a social scientific analysis of “rehabilitation” across three different religious organizations in California that are affiliated with a larger Chicana/o Pentecostal street ministry. Analyzing what rehabilitation means theologically and practically for the criminalized Latina/os who seek their services—including shelter, drug recovery programs, and spiritual counseling/aid—this project asks a key question about the ever-changing role of Christian communities in the 21st century: How do Christian notions of rehabilitation and redemption shift in a context of mass imprisonment, and how can “doing religion” become a tool for mitigating different forms of carceral control? Paying close attention to the interconnections between religious and punitive social institutions is of utmost importance to the study of North American religion—especially when prisons and criminal justice institutions have become the “last resort” for allocating public resources like remedial education, drug treatment, counseling, and medical care to poor communities of color. By examining the theological and practical motivations behind the rehabilitative actions of this Pentecostal ministry, this project fulfills the imperative to continue analyzing the recursive effects of criminal supervision, and how punitive discourses and practices may be resisted through the ongoing efforts of religious communities.