Prison Religion: Faith-Based Reform and the Constitution

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Princeton University Press, Feb 17, 2009 - Law - 305 pages
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More than the citizens of most countries, Americans are either religious or in jail--or both. But what does it mean when imprisonment and evangelization actually go hand in hand, or at least appear to? What do "faith-based" prison programs mean for the constitutional separation of church and state, particularly when prisoners who participate get special privileges? In Prison Religion, law and religion scholar Winnifred Fallers Sullivan takes up these and other important questions through a close examination of a recent trial challenging the constitutionality of a faith-based residential rehabilitation program in an Iowa state prison, a trial in which she served as an expert witness for the prisoner-plaintiffs.

Using the trial to illuminate the interrelationship of American law and religion today, Prison Religion argues that the plaintiffs' case unintentionally shows that separation of church and state is no longer possible because religious authority has radically shifted from institutions to individuals, making it difficult to define religion, let alone disentangle it from the state. In the course of advancing this unconventional view, Prison Religion casts new light on church-state law, the debate over government-funded faith-based programs, and the predicament of prisoners who have precious little choice about what kind of rehabilitation they receive, if they are offered any at all.

 

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Contents

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About the author (2009)

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan is associate professor of law and director of the Law and Religion Program at the University at Buffalo Law School, State University of New York. She is the author of "The Impossibility of Religious Freedom" (Princeton).

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