Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Faith-based prison units

The Acton Institute’s Jordan Ballor asked me what I thought of this decision against Iowa’s contract with Prison Fellowship’s InnerChange Freedom Initiative. My answer is in this week’s TAE Online column. If after reading it, you find yourself thirsting for more, you can find it here.

Update: I should add that an important feature of the judge’s opinion was his unprecedented requirement that Prison Fellowship pay back the $1.5 million it has received from the state of Iowa, something that these analysts regarded (three years ago) as "extraordinary" but possible. The judge reasoned, in effect, that Prison Fellowship should have known better and has deep pockets. While I’m not sure that this part of the order will hold up under appeal, I am sure that it will encourage other lawsuits and encourage PFM and other groups to get out of this business.

My analysis in the TAE piece substantially agrees with this one, which I’ve just had the opportunity to skim. The authors, Ira C. Lupu and Robert W. Tuttle, know this field better than just about anyone else.

Discussions - 2 Comments

Joe, thanks for passing on your thoughtful response. Linked in here.

Joe-
I am a graduate if the InnerChange program and I was disappointed bt the fed judge’s ruling! As a four time convicted felon who’s spent approximately 10 years in various prisons, in three different states, I can honestly say that I have received every form of secular treatment program-and even though I honestly wanted to change, they never worked for me. In my opinion, that is becausen they are, in large part, taught or administered by people who are either incompetant(thanks to low pay brought on by budget concerns) or really don’t care! After all, we are lowly criminals who don’t really deserve anything, and probably won’t change anyway!
Here is a program that works! Run by people who really care! Not just in words, but in action! What other prison program has real aftercare, that makes a huge difference in the success of a released inmate? None that I have ever heard of...
The one point I really wanted to address though, is the one about "priviledges" that IFI participants allegedly receive...While it is true that in Iowa they are housed in what’s known as an Honor dorm, it’s still prison, and it’s certainly not the Hilton! In fact, Newton is generally a pretty nice place all over, as prisons go.
In reality, you give up alot of things considered desirable by most inmates; television, unrestricted free time, more available visiting hours...
In IFI there is always something demanding your time (alot like real life!). There is daily classroom teaching, you MUST hold a job, There are also nightly classes to attend, tons of homework, the treatment (anger management, substance abuse, life skills...) last longer than most state classes, and are generally more in-depth.
All-in-all, IFI really seemed to me to offer alot less priviledges than General Population!!
Just wanted to give you a different perspective on that point.
Maybe IFI is not perfectly constitutional (according to some interpretations), but in a time when so many of our constitutional rights are being taken, or reinterpreted, I truly hope and pray that people will ultimately be won over by something that really works to change hearts and lives...not just those inmates who graduate, but their families, because of the breaking of the cycle that causes the same families to keep generating crime and violence...
Thanks for your time! Hope this makes some sense...

Joe Pipkin

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