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Faith & works

National | Faith-based initiatives can work. Just ask the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council.

Issue: "Attacking the future now," Feb. 22, 2003

Faith-based initiatives can work. Just ask the Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council. It found that prison inmates who complete a religion-based rehabilitation program are much less likely to commit new crimes following their release than similar inmates who don't participate.

The council's study tracked the recidivism rate of 177 offenders who participated in the Prison FellowshipÐsponsored InnerChange Freedom Initiative at the Carol Vance facility near Houston. The 16-month-long program accepts only minimum-security inmates within 18 to 30 months of release. It excludes anyone convicted of sex offenses, murder, or aggravated assault.

Only 8 percent of the InnerChange graduates ended up back in prison on a new offense or parole revocation within two years of their release. Among other groups studied, the recidivism rate was 20.5 percent. The other groups included about 2,800 inmates who were deemed eligible for the program but didn't volunteer and 560 inmates who volunteered but didn't participate.

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Prison Fellowship also runs InnerChange programs in Kansas, Iowa, and Minnesota. Texas officials are considering expanding the program in their state.

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman

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