A long-awaited University of Pennsylvania study gives high marks to Prison Fellowship's InnerChange Freedom Initiative in Texas.

The study was unveiled at a meeting yesterday with President George W. Bush, who sponsored the program as Governor of Texas. During the roundtable meeting, the president made a beeline to hug Robert Sutton, a convicted murderer who is now working for InnerChange. The then-governor and the inmate made controversial headlines in Texas with their first hug. In praising the prisoner program, the president showed no bashfulness from that experience. Sutton exclaimed, "It is amazing to me that President Bush kissed me on the cheek."

According to the PF-funded study, only 8 percent of the inmates who complete the full 22-month program of religious instruction, mentoring, and vocational training return to prison within two years of their release. A comparison group without the program had a 20 percent recidivism rate.

Criminologist Byron Johnson directed the six-year study. "The results are incredibly positive," Johnson told CT. The researcher also pointed out that the interviews indicated a progressive strengthening of the inmates spirituality and outlook on life that was particularly strengthened by the involvement by InnerChange mentors.

Bernard Veal, an ex-inmate now living in Houston, Texas, said that InnerChange "is more than a program—it is a way of life. There in prison, I got up for 5:30 a.m. prayer. Today, there is 5:30 a.m. prayer in my life."

However, the study notes that InnerChange—like many demanding inmate rehab programs—experiences a high dropout rate: 58 percent. Still, other criminologists told CT InnerChange's recidivism rate for prisoners who finished the program is impressive.

InnerChange ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Tags:
Read These Next
Current IssueYour Smartphone Is Neither a Cancer nor a Cure-All
Your Smartphone Is Neither a Cancer nor a Cure-All Subscriber Access Only
A balanced, biblical take on the devices we can’t seem to live without.
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickTogether for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Together for the Gospels: Unprecedented Unity Among Bible Translators Transforms Giving
Lessons learned from illumiNations initiative could transform giving to other causes.
Christianity Today
Study Lauds Prisoner Program
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

June 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.