Federal judge struck down state-financed religious prison program

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On June 2, 2006, Chief Judge Robert W. Pratt of the US District Court for the Southern District of Iowa issued an opinion finding that a religious prison organization receiving government funds violated the US Constitution because it was used to rehabilitate prison inmates by advocating the tenets of Christianity. Pratt found that inmates who voluntarily entered the program benefited through improved living conditions and pointed out that alternative secular or non-Christian programs were not provided to prisoners. Upon appeal, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that included retired US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor issued an opinion affirming that using taxpayer money to fund a faith-based treatment program in a state jail is unconstitutional.

Learn more about prison programs from the JURIST news archives, and read commentary on the appellate decision from JURIST Guest Columnist Mark Earley in Hotline.

 

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