Tuesday, March 01, 2005

More faith-based action...

this time a prison program in Arkansas that will "work with certain inmates for up to 18 months before release to teach them 'how to live life according to biblical principals.'"

It's run by InnerChange, a faith-based outreach of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship. InnerChange has previously run into problems in Iowa and Texas, and a similar, Colson-affiliated program in Arizona was shut down after a successful lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Mother Jones has a look inside an InnerChange program in Kansas, including this interesting paragraph:
Data compiled by Texas' Criminal Justice Policy Council suggests InnerChange graduates have lower rates of recidivism. But as University of Arizona sociologist Mark Chaves notes, "Prison Fellowship claims amazing success rates, but in prisons where it exists, it's often the only rehab program. We don't have comparisons between PFM and secular programs; we have comparisons between PFM and nothing."

An interesting aside (well, an aside anyway). While ruling in favor of the FFRF in the Arizona case, Justice John Shabaz turned them down in a separate suit against Emory University, which helped the Federal Health & Human Services Agency to distribute $900,000 in FBI money.

It's a story with all kinds of personal connections for me: the family that leads the FFRF lived just up the street from our parsonage when I was growing up, and Shabaz (IIRC) was the father of a classmate in the Madison public schools. I received my M.Div from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and last but not least, was born at Deaconness Hospital in St. Louis, which is run by the UCC-affiliated Deaconness Foundation, named in the FFRF suit.

Small world.

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