Killer-turned-artist Manny Hernandez on the prison where he’s finishing an eight-year term: “It’s a blessing to be here.” Fellow murderer and inmate Raymond Hall likens it to heaven.
“I love this place,” says their warden, Cynthia Tilley. “It’s so calm.”
They’re praising the Carol Vance Unit, founded in 1997 on the outskirts of Houston. It’s the oldest of a rapidly growing number of faith-based prison facilities across the nation.
Even as they proliferate, fueled by the fervor of devout volunteers, these programs are often criticized. Evidence that they reduce recidivism is inconclusive, and skeptics question whether the prevailing evangelical tone of the units discriminates against inmates who don’t share their conservative Christian outlook.
However, evidence is strong that violence and trouble-making drop sharply in these programs, and they often are the only vibrant rehabilitation option at a time when taxpayer-funded alternatives have been cut back.
Read about it here.
When I was at Catalyst two weeks they interviewed Catherine Rohr, founder of the Prisoner Entrepreneurship Program. She helps teach business skills to imprisoned criminals so that they can support themselves and be successful when they re-enter society. The results have been amazing! I was impressed that this woman and her husband gave up 6 figure jobs in NYC to move to Texas and minister to prisoners.
I don’t know how anyone could argue with the success of these programs but then anytime people become followers of Jesus there will be complaints–I promise!
What do you think?