Prison ministry sued
Last Friday, the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council issued a glowing report about the Innerchange Freedom Initiative, a Christian program launched in 1997 by Prison Fellowship founder (and Christianity Today columnist) Charles Colson.

Only 8 percent of the 177 prisoners who completed the 16-month Innerchange program wound up back in prison within two years of their release, the study found. For other prisoners at the Carol Vance Unit near Houston, the recidivism rate was 20.5 percent. (Those who started but didn't complete the program, however, had a 36% recidivism rate.)

"We're real excited about those results," Don Keil, assistant director for religious programs at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told the Associated Press. "It shows there's something happening down there."

What's happening down there, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is pure evil. "It uses tax dollars for pervasively religious programs, allows discriminatory hiring, gives preferential treatment to one religion over others, funds coercive conversion efforts and basically ignores the whole notion of a separation between church and state," executive director Barry Lynn said.

Yesterday, Americans United sued the Innerchange program at the Newton Correctional Facility in Iowa. It hopes that the suit will derail the faith-based initiative of President Bush, who has praised Innerchange and brought it to Texas as governor.

"Contrary to the representation by the suits' plaintiffs, the InnerChange Freedom Initiative in operation in Iowa in no way violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution," says Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley in a press release. "In Iowa, InnerChange ...

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