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Fla. Gets Nation's 1st Faith-Based Prison

Florida Faith based prison 2003

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#1 DWF


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Posted 25 December 2003 - 10:58 AM



Nearly 800 inmates from 26 faiths attended the dedication ceremony of what Gov. Jeb Bush called the nation's first faith-based prison — a facility focused on encouraging the spirituality of inmates of all faiths.

Along with regular prayer sessions, the Lawtey Correctional Institution will offer religious studies, choir practice, religious counseling and other spiritual activities seven days a week. Participation is voluntary and inmates are free to transfer out.

"This is not just fluffy policy, this is serious policy," Bush told the crowd on Wednesday. "For the people who are skeptical about this initiative, I am proud that Florida is the home to the first faith-based prison in the United States."

Marlin Cliburn, inmate No. 575042, recently transferred to Lawtey, where he is serving 6 1/2 years for aggravated assault, auto theft and fleeing officers. "My life was headed down the wrong road," said Cliburn, a Baptist. "I've kind of seen the light. I've been screwing up my whole life. I see this as a turning point in my life."

Other prisons and programs have used religious thinking to try to turn inmates away from crime. The Prison Fellowship Ministries runs its Christ-centered InnerChange Freedom Initiative in prisons in Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa and Texas.

The idea of promoting God behind bars has a long history. From 1829 to 1913, for instance, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia used a Quaker-inspired system in which prisoners were isolated from each other and made to perform labor in hopes of encouraging spiritual reflection and change.

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#2 QueenTiye


    Behavior is not reproducible over multiple trials.

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 09:16 AM

Interesting.  I like it in theory. But - what are the 26 faiths?  Are they all represented in the prison admin, as opposed to the population?  Or, are inmates there being taught a particular faith...?  It makes a difference on the subject of establishment of religion...


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#3 Kosh


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Posted 27 December 2003 - 11:01 AM

I don't think a state should run a religion based facility, but if it turns out to have few repeat offenders, then lets do it.
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#4 the 'Hawk

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 04:10 PM

As long as they don't base it on the honour system, I think it'll do just fine.

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