Monday, February 12, 2007

The Right Separation?

What would you say if a program existed that helped improve recividism rates for prisoners dramatically, was validated by peer-reviewed studies, and was partially funded by private parties to make it even more attractive for cash-strapped states? Sounds like a great thing, considering the financial crunches of many state budgets. Even better, considering the physical crunches of housing too many prisoners, releasing them only to see many rebound because they didn't learn how to properly cope with life in the first place.

Then what would you say if a judge threw out this program and ordered the sponsers to pay back money received in a legal contract, because of erronous views of how the program worked and who sponsered it? Sounds like a bad idea, right?

That is what is going on with the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) in the state of Iowa. Sponsered by Prison Fellowship (see link on right), this program has remarkable rates of success. However, the judge ruled that it violated the separation of church and state, even though it is a voluntary program to participate in for the prisoners. Worse, the judge went on to characterize evangelicals in broad catagories as almost cultish.

Prison Fellowship has filed an appeal, and oral arguments in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals are scheduled for tomorrow, February 13th. I would encourage you to read more about this here and here, and keep the lawyers and judges in prayer tomorrow. IFI is an opportunity to reach the lowest of society with the gospel, while also helping reduce crime and society burden. How the judge could see this as a bad thing is mind-boggling, but the beauty of our freedom is there are checks and balances. Let's pray for true justice, and that the IFI program can spread to touch more broken lives with true healing.


  1. I'm with you on this Jason. We support the Prison Fellowship as often as we can because we believe in the help and good they are doing with our prisoners.
    Thank you for speaking out on their behalf.

  2. Chances are you weren’t in the St. Louis courtroom this past Tuesday when retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor heard the appeal of a federal judge’s ruling against the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) (, a faith-based prisoner rehabilitation program affiliated with Prison Fellowship.

    However, if this is a subject you’re interested in and you’d like to write about it, here’s another chance.

    Click here ( Feb appeal.mp3)to listen to the court’s audio of the entire one-hour briefing in which IFI attorneys and lawyers for Americans United for Separation of Church and State argue the merits of their cases with O’Connor and two other judges. We think you’ll find the pointed questioning, particularly by Justice O’Connor, quite thought-provoking.

    If you have any problems with linking to the audio—or if you’d like to speak with Prison Fellowship President and former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, who attended the hearing—contact me at