Skip to comments.Court: [Iowa] Prison program unconstitutional
Posted on 12/03/2007 11:42:57 PM PST by Fitzcarraldo
DES MOINES, Iowa - A federal appeals court ruled Monday that the state of Iowa cannot fund an evangelical Christian prison ministry program because doing so advances or endorses religion, violating the Constitutional separation of church and state.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt's June 2006 ruling that a Prison Fellowship Ministries Inc. program at the Newton Correctional Facility was unconstitutional if paid for with taxpayer dollars and should be shut down.
Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based advocacy group Americans United For Separation of Church and State, which brought the lawsuit, said the ruling would have major implications for the Bush administration's policies of allowing faith-based groups to offer services to government institutions.
"This is an enormously significant case on the whole question of how government can, or in this case, cannot aid religious ministries," Lynn said.
"I think this has implications far broader than a prison in a single state because the basic framework of this decision, the way they reached the conclusion is that government can't pay for these religious social services nor can they turn over functions of government essentially to religious operations," he said.
Prison Fellowship Ministries, which contracts with InnerChange Freedom Initiatives Inc. and other organizations to conduct faith-based programs, must repay about $160,000 to the state for money received between June 2006 and June 2007, said Mark Early, the group's president.
He said the ruling would clarify how faith-based programs could work with government agencies.
"We're pleased because in this opinion there are some clarifying guidelines to help us and other faith-based organizations working in government settings, such as prisons, to be able to fashion a program and make sure they do comply with current understanding of constitutional law in this area."
Prison Fellowship operates nine programs in six states: Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Texas. All are now privately funded through donations from individuals and foundations, he said.
The 24-hour a day, seven-day a week program at Newton immerses inmates in evangelical Christianity. Inmates who complete the 18-month program also get help after they're released from prison.
Fred Scaletta, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Corrections, said corrections officials were reviewing the ruling with the attorney general's office to determine how the state would proceed with the operation of the program.
Bob Brammer, a spokesman for the Iowa attorney general's office, said attorneys were reviewing the ruling and considering whether to appeal.
An appeal could include asking the three-member 8th Circuit panel for clarification on issues or could seek consideration by the full 8th Circuit Court. The ruling also could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
First, there is no separation of church and state conflict here. Second, if we’re going to ditch a program with a tiny recidivism rate because it makes the ACLU feel sad, we don’t deserve to survive as a Republic.
Got that? Anything that has anything to do with Bush is BAD! If this policy actually HELPS, it's still BAD!
Folks, we gotta take our Country back. These people are nuts.
Fine! Throw all those korans at Gitmo in the ocean. No more federally funded prayer beads or rugs either. I keep hearing about the spread of islam stemming from our prisons. Will that program must end as well.
I was hearing about prison ministries LONG before I ever heard of George W. Bush.
What a load of bullmurtha.
From the article:
"...must repay about $160,000 to the state for money received between June 2006 and June 2007..."
"The 24-hour a day, seven-day a week program at Newton immerses inmates in evangelical Christianity."
That's money received from the government used directly to evangelize inmates. How can this be anything other than a clear conflict?
Indeed, the director of the program was pleased with the ruling, since it clarified what is and isn't permissible, and since they are now fully funded from private sources, so long as the program is not compulsory or tied in with some other prison privileges, then there is nothing for them to worry about.
Muslim prison programs also claim to have turned around the lives of prisoners, and I don't doubt they have help some inmates. Do we want the state funding their efforts too when they apply for funding?
Sounds like a good result all round to me.
Mr. Lynn, for the moment, has won the right to deprive prisoners of a voluntary program that works. He wants the government to directly interfere in prisoners’ religious choices. This so-called reverend has no Christian love for those who need it most.
After reading this, I’m about THIS —>||<— close to changing my academic plans and going into pre-law.
There is a problem here. The “state” is not synonymous with “the people”.
I would venture a guess that most who are in prison are not there because of crimes against “the state”, but they are there because of crimes against “the people”.
The ONLY reason for “The state” is to represent and protect “The people”.
A person who reads and understands this knows we are seeing here tyranny in progress.
You took the thoughts right out of my head.
When Barry dies, he will think he is in a volcano, or wish it was just a volcano.
I’m surprised this article didnt refer to him as “Rev” Barry Lynn as others do. It makes him more credible to the anti Christian media to have this fake minister working to destroy Christianity. Their goal is not seperation of church and state, but rather the elimnation of the church in the state. Nothing less.
Judgement awaits, Barry. The gates of hell are waiting.
America going, going gooooooone. Won’t be long now.
Great pic! I’ve added it to my collection.
I agree Barry Lynn and Mike Newdow both could use a dirt nap from natural causes of course..
You are correct.....
Or specially built prayer rooms at Quantico.
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