Faith-based re-entry saves tax dollars

openAssociated Baptist Press /Jeff Brumley — A Baylor University study shows that faith-based prisoner re-entry programs — at least in one case — help ex-cons, society and taxpayers.

The study analyzed the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, a Minnesota program that uses volunteers and private funds to help prisoners prepare for release and cope in the aftermath.

“The InnerChange program is a boon to taxpayers,” Grant Duwe, the study’s lead author and research director for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, said in a story published on Baylor’s website. Duwe is currently a non-resident scholar at the Baptist university.

It’s a boon because it operates without public funding and yet reduces recidivism, which in turn reduces other costs associated with crime, Duwe said.

Duwe and co-researcher Byron Johnson, co-director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, compared their data from 366 InnerChange participants against 732 inmates who were part of a separate 2012 study.

“The result showed that InnerChange reduced re-arrest by 26 percent, re-conviction by 35 percent and re-imprisonment for a new felony offense by 40 percent,” Baylor said in its announcement.

Lowered as a result were victimization costs, criminal justice system costs and lost productivity of prisoners. Minnesota as a result had to spend less of its tax revenues on crime-related expenses.

The Baylor study, published in the International Journal of Criminology and Sociology, found an estimated savings of $8,300 per participant. The savings to the state is estimated to be around $3 million.

InnerChange is a non-denominational, faith-based re-entry program that does not require its volunteers to be Christians. The program includes Bible studies and prayer sessions, substance abuse counseling, cognitive skills development, mentoring, educational seminars and small-group support. The program began in Texas in 1997.

Jeff Brumley is assistant editor of Associated Baptist Press.



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