Iowa prison ministry ruled unconstitutional

Decision seen as blow to faith-based initiatives
In what could be a major setback for the government’s ability to fund religious charities, a federal judge has ruled against an Iowa program designed to rehabilitate prisoners through Christianity.

Federal judge Robert Pratt of Des Moines ruled June 2 that the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, operating at Iowa’s Newton Correctional Facility, violates the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion.

“For all practical purposes, the state has literally established an evangelical Christian congregation within the walls of one its penal institutions, giving the leaders of that congregation, i.e., InnerChange employees, authority to control the spiritual, emotional, and physical lives of hundreds of Iowa inmates,” Pratt wrote.

 

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