Swift does not even take into account depth of belief, he doesn't bother to determine when the inmates started their beliefs. If I went to prison I would join a chruch and say I was a Christian, even if I wasn't. You are more likely to get parole, you have a group to identify with which may be able to protect you in certain cases, and you may get favored treatment. Parole boards really love to hear about religious conversions.I knew a guy who fakes a religious conversion because he went to jail and he continued the deception even while the was out on parole latter. When he got off parole, that ever day, he left his wife. He was not a Christian when he went to jail. He became one in jail.George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century?", The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
Here is the analysis of Chris Price, a friend of mine and member of the CADRE apologetics group:
CADRE Comments, Oct 16,2007
First, I note that when atheists are trying to emphasize their numbers, they include agnostics and nonbelievers and skeptics among their ranks. But when they want to deemphasize their involvement in negative social characteristics, they take a more limited approach to the data. This study only mentions atheists, not unbelievers, irreligious, unbelievers, skeptics, etc. So, you may think there are more “atheists” in the United States than the data supports. Most stats at Adherents.com, for example, puts the number of “atheists” at less than 1%.
Second, atheists tend to be more privileged than the rest of the population, especially the prison population. They are predominatly white, more educated, and middle class. These are typically the result of birth, which is not something for which their atheism can claim credit.
Third, the study tells us nothing about the timing or strength of religious identification. There is a strong motive to “clean up your act” in prison, complete with visits by prison chaplains and evangelists working to reform the inmates. Add to this the fact that religious conversion may be a good way to signal to others—such as the warden or parole board—that the inmate has reformed, there are ample reasons to find increased religious identification among inmates.
Fourth, your review of the data is oversimplistic. For example, you ignore the fact that Protestants make up a much smaller percentage of the prison population (35%) than they do the population at large (53%). Mormons make up about 2% of the population, but are a negligible portion of the prison population. Now, this may also be linked to other issues such as income, race, or education levels.
...Actually, if you compare church attendance (and thus exposure to the preaching of Christian values) you get plenty of improved morality. This article by a self-styled "secular liberal" who is also an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia admits that "surveys have long shown that religious believers in the United States are happier, healthier, longer-lived, and more generous to charity and to each other than are secular people."*
The article Price sites is The Third Edge
JONATHAN HAIDT: who is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he does research on morality and emotion and how they vary across cultures. He is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom.
Prices comments are "priceless," but its worse than he thought. He assumes the atheist is fudging by just not including unbelievers and those who have no opinon as atheist, as they usually do. He wilfully misrepresented the stats.
counter data: Swift is not a social scientist and his fabricated data is not a real study. But a large body of real social scinece proves that religious belief and participation deter crime.
Dark Larson proves there are 400 stduies done by real social scientists that show that religous participation reduces the likihood of Juvenile delinquency.
Cities on a Hill Newsletter, 1999
Dr. Larson laid the foundation for thediscussion by summarizing the findingsof 400 studies on juvenile delinquency,conducted during the past twodecades. He believes that althoughmore research is needed, we can saywithout a doubt that religionmakes apositive contribution. His conclusion:“The better we study religion,the morewe find it makes a difference.”
Attending services is the most significant factor in predicting charitable giving. Robert Wunthnow, Acts of Compassion, Princeton University Press, 1991.
*  Attending services is the most significant factor in predicting volunteer activity. Ibid.
*  Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, "The Faith Factor," Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.
*  Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.
*  Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century," The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
*  Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: "Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches." The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.
*  Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., "Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy," Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: "Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility." Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.
*The presence of active churches, synagogues, or mosques reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., "Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being," RIAL Update, Spring 1996.
*  People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, "Correcting the Welfare Tragedy," The Center for Public Justice, 1994.
*  Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.
*  Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, "Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?" Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being
 Most happy people are also religious people.
96% of people who say they are generally happy agree that "My religious faith is the most important influence in my life."
 Most people who find their work exciting and fulfilling are religious people.
<65% of people who say their occupation is exciting and fulfilling say that they find "comfort and support from my religious beliefs." Ibid.
 Most people who are excited about the future are religious people.
>80% of those who say they are "excited about the future" agree that they find "comfort and support from my religious beliefs." Ibid.
 Most people who feel close to their families are religious people.
94% of people who "feel very close" to their families agree that "my religious faith is the most important influence in my life." Ibid.
 Eight in ten Americans say religious beliefs help them respect themselves. Ibid.
 More than eight in ten say that their religious beliefs lead them to respect people of other religions. Ibid.
 Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* "Church attendance and health."* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.
* Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* " The Impact of religion on men's blood pressure."* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* "Diet, Hypertension and Stroke." in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.
* People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.
* Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* "God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control" in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: "Psychotherapies on the Clergy" in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.
* About half of religious people "have a lot of stress" in their lives, but only half of these "often get depressed." George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century?" The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.
* Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* "Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior." * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O'Malley:* "Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use."* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes."* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were repilcated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.
* This data is reprinted from RIAL Update which is edited by Robert B. Lennick and published twice a year by Religion In American Life.* Reprinting of any material in this copyright publication requires written permission from the editor.
W.K. Kay and L.J. Francis Drift from the Churches: attitudes towards Christianity during childhood and adolescence, Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1996, pp x + 266Key words: attitudes - Christianity - children - adolescents - empiricalMedium: authored bookSummary:
How and why do some young people become religious?* Are religious people happier than others?* Do church schools help pupils to develop a positive attitude toward Christianity?* What part does personal religious experience play in shaping religious attitudes?*
Twenty-five years of empirical psychological and sociological research on young people in relation to Christianity is presented here in a set of interrelated studies which show how attitude toward Christianity in young people is linked with schooling, cognitive development, masculinity and femininity, church attendance, religious experience, science, well-being, mental health and the Eysenckian model of personality.