Faith-based Rehabilitation Programs in Prisons
JUS 510 Contemporary CJ Issues and Trends
April 13, 2014
Professor Lacy Ellis
Faith-based rehabilitation programs are support groups within the prison system that inmates can be a part of to encourage, support, stability, growth, life changing skills, and thinking. These programs can help assist inmates in adjusting to prison life while being incarcerated and it can also help them have a strong foundation upon their release. In addition, these programs can help give them a positive view of life and some type of structure once they are released back into society. There are many types of faith-based programs such as Prison Fellowship (PF), the Inner Change Freedom Initiative (IFI), and the Three-Phase Program. Prison Fellowship and many other prison ministries main goal is to teach the importance of believing in a higher power while helping former prisoners to lead crime-free lives and keeping a faith-based foundation. There are many in-prison programs which are offered by these prison ministries. Among these are weekly Bible studies and one-to-three-day seminars. The more these inmates participate within these programs the greater livelihood of strengthening their faith and changing their perspective on life. According to Byron Johnson, "there is, however, preliminary empirical evidence that regular participation in volunteer-led Bible studies is associated with reductions in recidivism" (2012, p. 60). A second type of faith-based program is the Inner Change Freedom Initiative (IFI) which is a religious program structured around God's law and respect for others. The mission of IFI is "to encourage the spiritual and moral regeneration of prisoners" (Johnson, 2012, p. 61). The IFI started in April 1997, at the Carol Vance Unit. The Carol Vance Unit housed over 300 prisoners in Richmond, Texas. The Vance Unit was selected because of the number of prisoners which were held at the prison, the fact that it was a pre-release facility, and it's location was in the Houston area. The IFI was formed as a correctional experiment by both the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and Prison Fellowship. A third type of faith-based program is the Three-Phase Program which was established by IFI and consists of three phases which are: spiritual and moral foundation, inmates value system in real life, and the last phase which is the reentry component. The first phase, spiritual and moral foundation, is the building blocks which the other two phases are based upon. The second phase, inmates value system in real life, sets the tone for incarcerated prisoners by teaching them life skills within the prison setting to prepare them how to adapt to society effectively adapt back into the community through productive and supportive relationships with family local churches, and the workplace. There are also faith-based programs that work in partnership with community-based programs. In 2001, President Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and Centers for Faith-Based, and Community Initiatives (Centers). Since this time, there have been seven additional Centers created with the same goal as the two programs listed above. The main goal of these programs is to help faith-based and community organizations effectively provide different types of reentry programs and services to people who are released from jails and prisons. One of the problems that exist with these programs is the fact that the demand for reentry services will continue to grow since the large number of people who are released from jails and prisons continue to increase year after year. (Yoon & Nickel, 2008, p. 4). Although there are many faith-based programs within the prison system there are also community organizations which include the Safer Foundation and Ready4Work organizations. The Safer Foundation is a large non-profit organization that administers...
References: Hewitt, J. D. (2006). Having faith in faith-based prison programs. Criminology & Public
Policy, 5(3), 551-558.
Johnson, B. R. (2012). Can a Faith-Based Prison Reduce Recidivism?. Corrections Today, 73(6), 60-62.
Yoon, J. & Nickel, J. (2008). Reentry Partnerships: A Guide for States & Faith-based and Community Organizations. Council of State Governments Justice Center. New
York, NY. Retrieved on April 9, 2012 from http://ojp.gov/fbnp/pdfs/reentry- partnership.pdf
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