Hawkinsville, Ga. Georgia officials are trying a new faith-based program at six state prisons to help inmates stay out of trouble once they're released.
The intensive 12-week program teaches inmates personal responsibility, ethics, life skills, how to land a job, communicating with families, coping with adversity, tolerance and respect for themselves and others.
Already, 444 inmates have entered the program at Pulaski State Prison. Faith-based programs are being established elsewhere and officials eventually plan them at all state prisons, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
To qualify, an inmate must have a record clear of behavioral problems the preceding 90 days. A single infraction such as fighting, stealing or failing to follow orders is an automatic ticket back to the general population.
Critics charge that no studies prove the effectiveness of faith-based programs and that they unconstitutionally mix government and religion.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is suing a similar Iowa program for violating the U.S. Constitution by creating a faith-based dorm, paying a ministry that works with inmates and giving participating inmates access to television and free phone calls.