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Judgment Against Faith-Based Prison Program

Discussion in '2006 Archive' started by Revmitchell, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. Revmitchell

    Revmitchell Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Feb 18, 2006
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    WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2006—InnerChange Freedom Initiative, an effective prison program proven to reduce recidivism, has long been the target of strident attacks from liberal interest groups such as the ACLU. But few expected the biggest hit to the prisoner rehabilitation ministry would come from the U.S. federal courts. The blow was leveled on June 2 when a federal district judge ordered Prison Fellowship and InnerChange Freedom Initiative to stop its operations for the Iowa Department of Corrections and repay the state $1.5 million spent on the program over the past six years.

    Today, InnerChange Freedom Initiative has a new ally in its fight to overturn that decision: the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the nation’s top conservative public interest law firm.

    The ACLJ filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, asking the appeals court to overturn a lower court decision ordering the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) and Prison Fellowship Ministries to reimburse the state of Iowa $1.5 million dollars the state paid IFI to run a faith-based prison rehabilitation program.

    “This is a constitutionally sound and highly-effective faith-based program that helps turn troubled lives around,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ.
    “The lower court decision not only removes an effective program with a proven track record, it creates a chilling effect by ordering restitution. We’re hopeful the appeals court will correct this flawed decision and uphold the constitutionality of this important program.”
  2. Daisy

    Daisy New Member

    Apr 1, 2003
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    Is this the one where the guy was faced with the choice of forsaking his own religion (in order to stay in the program) or go to jail?
  3. carpro

    carpro Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Oct 14, 2004
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    The original trial judge, Judge Pratt found that:

    * While Iowa prison officials were primarily interested in a low-cost program that promised to reduce recidivism among inmates, they "gerrymandered" the Request for Proposals that led to the contract with InnerChange, which was the sole bidder.
    * The nature of the InnerChange program is such that it is impossible to clearly distinguish and separate its religious and secular elements. There is one clearly secular class --"Computer Training." Other classes that have secular analogues in therapeutic rehabilitative programs, like "Anger Management," are taught from an essentially Christian point of view.
    * While the InnerChange staff attempted to distinguish between their secular and religious work, and bill the state accordingly, their efforts fell short. Where so much of the program is devoted to inculcating a Christian worldview, it is difficult, if not impossible, to precisely delineate what portion of a staffer's time, or what fraction of a piece of equipment's value is devoted to secular, as opposed to religious, purposes.
    * In addition to formal coursework, the program imposes numerous religious requirements, including attendance at regular Friday night revival meetings and at Sunday morning worship services.
    * There is no comparable secular or religious program elsewhere in the Iowa prison system. Inmates who want a long-term comprehensive rehabilitation program have no other choices.
    * The living conditions and privileges afforded InnerChange participants are sufficiently superior to those afforded the general prison population as to be incentives to join the program. In effect, inmates are rewarded for their participation in a religious program.