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November 8, 2007

Another report tentatively praising faith-based prisons

Thanks to this post at Corrections Sentencing, I discovered this relatively new report from the Urban Institute entitled "Evaluation of Florida's Faith- and Character-Based Institutions."  The report provides a detailed account of Florida' "FCBIs" along with some cautious praise.  Here are some snippets from the executive summary:

In addition to traditional solutions such as education and vocational training, corrections officials are increasingly implementing faith-based models, as well as secular programs that emphasize moral development and character building. Florida is one of many states to follow this trend, but set itself apart from other corrections agencies when, on Christmas Eve 2003, it opened the first state-operated correctional institution dedicated exclusively to a faith- and character-based approach to rehabilitation.

The findings and recommendations outlined below — and explored in detail throughout this report — highlight the results of a process and impact evaluation conducted by the Urban Institute of two of Florida’s Faith- and Character-Based Correctional Institutions (FCBIs)...

Staff, inmates, and volunteers overwhelmingly find value in the FCBI model and believe that it is achieving its goals of changing inmate behaviors, preparing inmates for successful reentry, and ultimately reducing recidivism. Respondents feel that, in particular, the FCBI experience helps promote family reunification and employment prospects upon release, while also improving the prison environment for inmates, volunteers, and staff. That these successes are achieved in large part through volunteer resources from the private and non-profit sectors is cited as both a cost savings to FDOC and an asset to the model, as some respondents indicate that volunteers can provide more effective, dynamic services than those the state is able to offer....

FDOC should be cautiously optimistic about the impact of FCBIs on reoffending behaviors, particularly given the potential cost savings associated with the volunteer-led program offerings. Indeed, it is possible that inmates across FDOC facilities could benefit from volunteer-run self-betterment programs that are virtually budget neutral.  However, corrections officials may also wish to replicate the impact analysis reported in this document in a year’s time, when the sample sizes are more likely to yield results in which they can have increased confidence.

Some related posts on faith-based prison programs:

November 8, 2007 at 03:42 PM | Permalink

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