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Prison Program Appeals Judge's Ruling that Aims to Boot God from U.S. Prisons

InnerChange Freedom Initiative & Prison Fellowship to Fight Shutdown of Effective Program that Reduces Recidivism, Enhances Public Safety, & Cuts Corrections Costs

Contact: Michelle Farmer, 770-813-0000, 770-757-4900 cell, www.DeMossNewsPond.com/IFI  

WASHINGTON, June 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today Prison Fellowship, the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, and the State of Iowa gave notice to the U.S. District Court in Iowa and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that they will appeal Iowa District Court Judge Robert Pratt’s ruling in the lawsuit brought by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

On June 2, Judge Pratt ordered that the Iowa InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI), a comprehensive, faith-based pre-release program for prisoners that is affiliated with Prison Fellowship, be shut down and that Prison Fellowship and IFI repay the State of Iowa the $1.5 million paid IFI under a contract for services over the past six years. Judge Pratt ruled that the IFI program was “pervasively sectarian” and thus violated the separation of church and state.

“It is ironic,” said Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley, “that within one week of Judge Pratt’s ruling closing down IFI in Iowa, the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons released a report stating that comprehensive rehabilitation programs are the key factor in reducing recidivism, enhancing security in prisons, and protecting the public.”

For more than 10 years, the InnerChange Freedom Initiative has produced dramatic results in changing the lives of hardened criminals and stopping the revolving door of crime. The program presents viable solutions to challenges that state and local governments have struggled with for decades, with the vast majority of funds provided by private sources.

“Clearly, IFI, with its demonstrated ability to reduce recidivism, offers exactly the kind of programming state correctional systems need to enhance public safety and reduce the skyrocketing costs of corrections,” said Earley.

Earley maintains that the effort to remove faith-based programs from prisons “fosters a ‘lock 'em up and throw away the key’ approach to fighting crime. It assumes that by warehousing criminals and providing no services to help them change, society will be safer when they get out. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

He and other supporters of faith-based prison programming believe the outcome of the appeal will have ramifications beyond the Iowa case.

“It is our belief that the InnerChange Freedom Initiative is constitutional and well within the framework of the safeguards of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” said Earley.

Media Note: To schedule an interview with Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley or an IFI inmate, or for more information including b-roll and high-resolution, downloadable photos, visit www.DeMossNewsPond.com/IFI or contact Michelle Farmer
(770) 813-0000 / 757-4900 (cell).