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February 13, 2007

Any early reports on Eighth Circuit argument on faith-based prisons?

As noted here and here, major litigation from Iowa concerning a faith-based prison program was up for oral argument before the Eighth Circuit today.  Adding to the intrigue, retired  Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is on the panel hearing the arguments (and perhaps can be expected to write the eventual opinion in the case).

Though I am hoping to see MSM coverage about the argument soon, perhaps a reader might have been in attendance and can provide a field report. 

Recent posts on faith-based prison programming:

UPDATE:  Here is an interesting early press account of the arguments.  This passage caught my eye:

Each side received 30 minutes in which to make its case to the panel with the three judges interrupting frequently with questions.  O'Connor cut off retired Iowa deputy attorney general, Gordon Allen, about 15 seconds into his argument to ask about recidivism rates in Iowa and in other states.  Allen said that if the panel upheld the district court's decision, it would cause "a chilling effect" for future faith-based prison programs.

Judge Duane Benton cited a 150-inmate waiting list to get into the Iowa program and asked Americans United attorney Alex Luchenitser if that and the program's success in rehabilitating prisoners didn't illustrate some value.  "It illustrates some value for the inmates of one religion," said Luchenitser. "But there is harm against other inmates, and when you take that into account, I don’t think there is a value" to the program.

MORE: The always amazing Howard Bashman has a great collection of coverage of the oral argument (and a link to the audio file) here.

February 13, 2007 at 01:46 PM | Permalink


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