Changes in the American religious landscape enabled the rise of mass incarceration. At the same time, many religious ideas and practices oppose mass incarceration. My research intends to substantiate these two claims and to explore the tension between them. Working collaboratively with prison ethnographer Joshua Dubler, we aim to re-frame the exponential prison growth of the last forty years. By looking behind prison walls, inside churches, and at the language of political elites, we aim to explicate the peculiar nexus of religious and political ideas that enables mass incarceration, and we hope to harvest religious resources that can make the criminal justice system more just.
Vincent Lloyd is Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, politics, and race, drawing on the resources of critical theory. Lloyd has written The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology and Black Natural Law: Beyond Secularism and Multiculturalism (forthcoming), and he has edited or co-edited the books Race and Political Theology, Sainthood and Race, and Race and Secularism in America. He edits the journal Political Theology. Lloyd has held fellowships from Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is at work on a project entitled "Religion and Mass Incarceration."