House committee reviews faith-based program bill

Wednesday, January 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Oklahoma City-AP) -- State lawmakers say they aren't ready to put their faith in legislation authorizing faith-based programs in state prisons.

The measure is proposed by Representative Leonard Sullivan, a Republican from Oklahoma City. It would let the Department of Corrections and private prisons link with churches, synagogues and other faith-based groups to make programs available to inmates.

But lawmakers and corrections officials are cautious. They expressed concern today that it might open up prison gates to occult groups that want to establish programs based on their faiths.

They say the presence of faith-based programs in prisons could require officials to make similar programs available to other inmates who do not want to participate.

Ron Anderson of the Department of Corrections says participation in the programs must be voluntary. He says inmates cannot be rewarded for participating or punished for not participating.