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Jeb's faith-based prisons

Florida has no scientific study to back up claims that inmates attending church lowers the number of disciplinary actions or has affected recidivism rates, never mind all the dicey church/state separation issues.

I wonder how the fundies feel about Wicca and Scientology being among the “supported” religions in these prisons? (ABC):

Florida is where nearly half of all felons released end up back in prison within five years. The state’s prison system doesn’t seem the most likely to enlighten its inmates.

In December 2003, Gov. Jeb Bush converted the medium-security Lawtey Correctional Institution into the nation’s first entirely faith-based prison. The governor put his plan into motion by stating “people of all faith, people who believe in a higher power are compelled to take actions in their lives that improve their chances of living a wholesome life that is crime-free.”

At Lawtey, 28 different religions are represented — Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, Wicca, Scientology.

…But what about the separation of church and state? Isn’t this violating that mandate? Officials at the Florida Department of Corrections say no, because all the religious materials and time devoted to religion come from more than 600 volunteers representing a variety of faiths.

But Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State called this arrangement “constitutional quicksand.” Lynn said that “parts of a government cannot be run by religion, and it’s just as wrong for the state of Florida to set up, in any way, a faith-based prison as if it were setting up its own faith-based schools, its faith-based fire department or police department.”

Fireman for Jeebus.

Since Gov. Bush oversaw the conversion of Lawtey, Florida’s Department of Corrections has opened two more faith- and character-based prisons — one for inmates serving long sentences and another that’s exclusively for women. The state plans to open as many as 30 more. The state believes that these kinds of programs mean less disciplinary action and lower recidivism, but no scientific study has proved anything of that nature.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding