Associated 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.