February 29, 2008

Iowa Religious Program to End


by Rachael Grant

A five year court battle over a Bible-based treatment program at a prison in Albany is due to end, according to the state’s officials.

The program, InnerChange Freedom Initiative, will end by the middle of May, so say The Iowa Department of Corrections when they addressed Prison Fellowship Ministries in Virginia.

The Prison Fellowship originally had a three year contract to work with inmates, but it ended in June. They were then granted a one year extension, with expenses covered purely by donations.

Written into the agreement is a clause that states that if enrolment drops below 60 inmates then the prison can cancel it. With a graduation ceremony for 27 prisoners, scheduled for March 14, this is due to happen.

The US Circuit Court of Appeals in St Louis decided that the program should not be run by taxpayer money and that the program advanced religion at government expense. The program, which has been in place for eight years, has existed solely on donations since the middle of July, after a legislation was signed that eliminated a state appropriation for the project.

Prisoners enrolled in the project spend seven days a week in education, and in prayer, and it has been reported that the program helps reduce the number of re-offenders, as well as protecting the publics safer, and reducing bad behaviour.

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