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Politics, life, and other things that matter

And Another Scam Bites The Dust

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 4, 2007

Watergate enforcer Chuck Colson’s taxpayer-financed wingnut-welfare scam just got dealt a crippling blow:

A federal appeals court today ruled that tax funding of an evangelical Christian rehabilitation program at an Iowa state prison violates the separation of church and state and must end.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that government support for the InnerChange Freedom Initiative at Newton Correctional Facility — a program operated by Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries — advances religious indoctrination at state expense.  Americans United brought the litigation against InnerChange on behalf of inmates, their families and taxpayers.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, hailed the ruling.

“This is an extremely important decision,” said Lynn. “Government officials have no business paying for religious indoctrination and awarding special treatment and benefits to those willing to embrace one religious perspective. 

“Government should not single out a particular religion for special treatment,” Lynn continued. “You simply cannot give government funds to a religious group for its evangelism program.”

The irony is that while the program claimed to be ace at keeping cons from reoffending, once legitimate, un-“creamed” statistics were used it was revealed that persons participating in Colson’s project were more likely to reoffend:

Despite President Bush’s oft-repeated mantra that results matter, the jury is still out on faith-based programs. On August 5, 2003, Mark A.R. Kleinman published a piece in Slate that closely examined the much ballyhooed results of a University of Pennsylvania study that had concluded that Charles Colson’s InnerChange Freedom Initiative — a Christian-centered prison reform project sponsored by Colson’s Prison Justice Ministries — reduced recidivist rates amongst former prisoners.

Kleinman, who teaches public policy at UCLA, found that contrary to the University of Pennsylvania’s upbeat conclusion, the participants in InnerChange’s project actually performed somewhat worse than the control group, and were slightly more apt to be re-arrested and re-imprisoned. Apparently, in order to attain its findings, the Pennsylvania study employed a device Kleinman called “selection bias,” also known as “creaming.” That factor, Kleinman explained, allowed InnerChange to ignore participants that dropped out or were kicked out of the program or that for some other reasons, never finished the program.

4 Responses to “And Another Scam Bites The Dust”

  1. Charles said

    When academia becomes corrupted in this way, things are pretty far deteriorated.

  2. Stormcrow said

    Newsflash – Academics were being bought and sold in this country decades ago.

    If you want to make tenure, you have to bring in the grant money. What does that tell you?

  3. Charles said

    Hm. Well, I can’t argue that academics were being bought and sold. Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine provides too ready a counterexample.

    But things have changed, Stormcrow. Faking data for a cause like Colson? I can’t think of a comparable example. It was only when people believed that the safety of the nation was at stake that they were willing to betray basic principles of scholarship.

    What has changed is job security. Many fewer academics are tenured proportionate to the 1960s-1980s. The defense of tenure is much weaker, such that tenured academics have been removed or threatened with removal for purely political reasons. And alternative employment is less readily available.

    It’s true that the peer review process of grant application opens the door for political meddling. But that tends to be more of a personal, not overtly political nature. Much more political is the funding that comes from private industry and right-wing foundations. That has changed greatly in the last generation.

  4. IIRC, the destruction of tenure is one of the “innovations” given to us by William Simon, as part of his goal to engineer a conservative takeover of all American colleges as well as all American media outlets — in other words, the institutions we rely on to give us objective reality. When people feel more economic pressure, they bow to it.

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