Monday, June 05, 2006

The Rule of Law

Now here’s a ruling we can get behind. In Des Moines, Iowa a judge has ruled that the Bible-based prison program Prison Fellowship Ministries violates the First Amendment’s freedom of religion clause by using state funds to promote Christianity to inmates.

1). Prison Fellowship Ministries was recently ordered to cease its program at the Newton Correctional Facility AND:

A. Repay the state of Iowa $1.53 million
B. Send a letter of apology to all non-Christians housed at the facility for what many perceived to be their intolerance of other faiths
C. Remove all Bibles that they gave away to inmates
D. Sponsor an interfaith symposium at the correctional facility

2). Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the suit against Prison Fellowship Ministries, says the group gave preferential treatment to inmates in their Christian program. Perks did NOT include one of the following:

A. Participation in a special Sunday brunch that served tasty, homemade dishes
B. Special visitation rights
C. Movie-watching privileges
D. Access to computers
E. Access to classes needed for early parole

1. A: State prison officials have said that they hired the religious group to improve inmate behavior and reduce recidivism — not promote Christianity. “This calls into question the funding for so many programs,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed the suit. “Anyone who doesn't stop it is putting a giant ‘sue me’ sign on top of their building.”

2. A: The inmates did NOT get special food on Sundays, but they did get special visitation rights, movie-watching privileges, access to computers and access to classes needed for early parole. U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt called the perks “seemingly minor benefits” that constituted unfair treatment to those not in the religious program. Despite any claims of rehabilitating inmates, the program “impermissibly endorses religion,” Pratt wrote.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger Symbals said...

Dear blogger at



“This decision, if allowed to stand, will enshrine religious discrimination.”

Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley

MEDIA NOTE: Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley is available today to respond to this federal court ruling.

Call Michelle Farmer or Regina Lupoli (770) 813-0000 or (770) 757-4900 (cell)


On Friday, a federal district court judge ruled that helping the incarcerated is no place for God. The Hon. Robert Pratt ruled on Friday that InnerChange Freedom Initiative -- a faith-based prisoner rehabilitation program begun by Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship nearly 10 years ago – must shut down in Iowa WITHIN 60 DAYS.


§ The corrections system in America is broken, as evidenced by the fact that of the 2.3 million incarcerated Americans, nearly 700,000 convicted criminals will return to our streets this year and 67 percent will be re-arrested within three years (Bureau of Justice Statistics).

§ Departments of Correction are seeking assistance and asking for cost-effective, values-based programs that reduce recidivism.

§ The InnerChange Freedom Initiative program works and is proving to be effective and cost-effective, as preliminary studies have shown the program to drastically reduce the number of former inmates returning to prison.

§ The InnerChange Freedom Initiative program is entirely voluntary and is open to inmates of any faith or no faith.


“This verdict sends a chilling message to people of faith everywhere. It is our belief that The InnerChange Freedom Initiative is constitutional and well within the framework of the safeguards of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Earley. “We firmly believe that the 8th Circuit will overturn the decision of Judge Pratt and protect the rights of all Americans, even those in prison.”



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