Chicago Jail Joins Trend in Creating ‘Christian Tier’


LaShun Members was relaxed for someone sitting at a metal table in the middle of a maximum-security tier in the Cook County Jail. “Look at my feet,” Members said, sliding one out on the concrete floor to reveal a beige rubber slipper. “Shower shoes.” In most parts of the jail, inmates would be afraid to keep them on in a dayroom, he said, because you never know when a fight will break out and you’ll need good footing.

Members, 31, lives in the Life Learning Dorm of Division 10. Despite the well-known cliche of finding religion behind bars, inmates and officials agree that problems in the “Christian tier,” which opened in 2000, are negligible compared to the rest of the complex, reports the Chicago Tribune. “If we see any disagreements there, they tend to be verbal,” said Scott Kurtovich, the jail’s acting director. “They tend to talk and work it out.” Such specialized programs have gained recognition in recent years, particularly after the 2004 dedication of Florida’s Lawtey Correctional Institution, billed as the nation’s first “faith-based” prison. Officials across the nation have latched onto the idea that religion might be one way to reduce recidivism.


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