Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Melanye Smith


The Southeast region of the United States is experiencing an increase in the amount of crime in the African American community particularly among juveniles. Furthermore, the rate of African American juveniles being arrested is higher than arrest rates among other races. This problem reveals the need for reformation and rehabilitation programs to reduce recidivism in the juvenile justice system. Research indicates that juveniles who have attachments to a conventional institution commit fewer delinquent acts. Although attachments to sports and other programs are positively associated with the social bond theory, it was unclear what aspects of the church program might influence delinquency rates. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to determine the effectiveness of the juvenile rehabilitation programs at African American Baptist churches, with the intention of identifying areas of success, as well as weaknesses. Guided by Hirschi’s social bond theory, a purposeful sample of 21 African American male juveniles who attend a faith-based program were recruited from one church in the Southeast United States, and data were gathered through the use of semi-structured interviews. Data analysis consisted of a process of inductive coding, categorizing, and interpreting raw data for meaning. The findings revealed that when the restraints of the social bond theory are intact, juveniles are committed to the staff leading the program and to making better decisions about committing delinquent acts. The data provided by this study has implication for social change and may be valuable for policymakers in assessing the effectiveness of church rehabilitation programs and reducing recidivism among African American males in the juvenile justice system.