In Florida, the Nation's First Faith-Based Prison

June 2, 2004

Source: The Detroit News

On June 2, 2004 The Detroit News reported, "The 30-year-old, minimum-security state penitentiary in Lawtey, Florida is the nation’s first entirely 'faith-based' prison, where every inmate has signed up for intensive religious instruction. Enthusiastic state officials believe this novel arrangement will reduce recidivism and save taxpayers’ money. But some civil libertarians, religious minorities and penal experts question whether it is fair and effective — let alone constitutional. Moreover, what is happening at Lawtey has turned the faith-based initiative of Gov. Jeb Bush’s older brother, President Bush, on its head: The president’s aim is to help religious charities get government money to provide social services. As Florida has slashed spending for prison rehabilitation programs, money is not flowing from the state to religious groups. It is flowing from religious groups to the state."