prisoners subjected to religious indoctrination by government-funded program
- The following article appeared on page A17 of the thursday, 13 February 2003
edition of The Arizona Republic and is credited only to wire services.
RELIGION-BASED PROGRAM CAUSES SUIT AGAINST IOWA
Des Moines, Iowa--An advocacy group filed suit Wednesday against Iowa and its
top prison officials over a rehabilitation program for inmates that is
centered on fundamentalist Christianity.
The Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and
State claims state funding for the faith-based program is unconstitutional.
The InnerChange Freedom Initiative, offered at Iowa's Newton Correctional
Facility since 1999, aims to reduce recidivism among inmates.
The suit says the program is funded almost entirely with government money,
with 99 percent of its $689,877 in revenues in fiscal 2001 coming from the
states of Iowa and Kansas.
Plaintiffs allege that inmates who voluntarily enter the program receive
numerous privileges not afforded other prisoners.
Such inmates live in an honor unit where they are given keys to their cells
and have access to private bathrooms. They are allowed extra visits from
family members, free telephone calls to family, access to computers and
The program "gives inmates incentives to subject themselves to religious
indoctrination," the suit says.