The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

...Long As I Got My Plastic Jesus...

In San Angelo, Texas, in a little place called Tom Green County, they got themselves an idea. What if we got ourselves a prison? They asked for proposals and only one group stepped forward to show off their idea. A firm called Corrections Concepts wants to do a "faith based prison" to help inmates get their lives back on track. It would be a volunteer program that the incarcerated go to for the last two years of their sentence. Sort of a, "let Jesus slap your ass as you leave for good luck" thing.

The good folks who want this say it, "could influence prisoners' lives through religion, and create jobs." This leads into a funny story about statistics and, oddly, President Bush.

See, this is not the first time a faith-based prison has been tried. Funnily enough, Bush's favorite initiative when he was Governor deep in the heart of Texas was something called InnerChange Freedom Initiave, a Christian Prison Program started in 1997 (and including Iowa from '99, Kansas from '00, and Minnesota from '02) that boasted dramatically reduced recidivism from a control comparison group. My favorite thing on their site is the FAQ:

"Q: Are inmates who practice other faiths able to participate in IFI?
A: Yes, if they're willing to actively participate in a Christ-centered, Biblically based program.
Q: Do IFI participants have to be Christians?
A: No. Each IFI participant is not required to be Christian, but they must be willing to productively participate in a program that is explicitly Christian in both content and delivery."

So basically if a prisoner is a Muslim or an atheist or whatever, he can be in this program as long as he accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior (that is, "productively participates"). Anyone else see a problem in there? Oh, and the main peeve was that the people reporting on the group fudged the stats (and by "fudged the stats", I mean they ignored the people who didn't complete the program, were kicked out, or got early parole - you tend to get great results when you don't count the failures). If ever there was an appropriate use for the term "Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy", this is it.

I know, you're shocked that a program championed by Bush would get statistics wrong. Me too. We have to get over our collective flabbergastedness to realize that these guys will ignore contrary results and keep saying how great Christian prisons are, how they've helped people in the past, and how now that he has a job, Bobby the 120 pound ex-con who had handlebars tattooed on the back of his hips by the Aryan Nation is a model citizen (with only a slight rectal prolapse problem).

More religion is not the solution to crime. Check the part of the Faith Based Fudging article that says the participants in the Jebus program actually did worse than the control group. Fabulous. Let's keep the plastic Jesus on the dashboard or in Cool Hand Luke's pocket, and out of the jailhouses, k? K.

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