The Justice Department canceled a plan for a religion-based prison rehabilitation program that critics said would have violated the separation of church and state, reports the New York Times. The department sought proposals for a “single-faith, residential re-entry program” to be run by a particular denomination in up to six federal prisons.. The program was challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a suit filed in Madison, Wi.
The federal Bureau of Prisons halted the program last week without comment. Civil liberties advocates say money going to religion-based rehabilitation programs in prisons could be used to proselytize inmates, many of whom do not have secular alternatives. Proponents of the programs maintain that religion gives inmates a moral foundation to help them re-enter society. An Iowa federal judge has ruled a state-financed evangelical Christian prison program unconstitutional because it was “pervasively sectarian.” That case is on appeal.