Thinking Anglicans

Prison Service: radio discussion

From the BBC radio programme Sunday:

Inner Change Freedom Initiative

The Inner Change Freedom Initiative is a Christian programme aimed at reforming prisoners which has been in operation in Dartmoor since April but the Prison Service has now denied it formal approval and that means it will have to stop in October. The people who run the programme, the Prison Fellowship, believe it is being shut down because it’s too Christian and falls foul of the prison’s diversity policy. They have attracted some high level support in the Church hierarchy. The Bishop of Lewes, Wallace Benn, says the Chaplain General of the Prison Service should resign over the matter. However by no means all his fellow bishops agree. Edward [Stourton] talked to Peter Selby, the bishop of Worcester, who is the Church of England’s Bishop for Prisons.

Listen (4m 3s) (Real Audio)

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17 years ago

I seem to recall an article in the Church Times (?) not so long since on this one. One of the most difficult things for the scheme’s proponents to admit was that it didn’t seem to do what it said on the tin, and the the US claims of reduced reoffending etc etc were not borne out by the evidence. There are two possible responses to that one, to say, “oh dear, we’d best look at what we’re up to, then” or to shout “persecution/political correctness gone mad”. Given that Alpha operates within Britain’s prisons, anyone who claims a bias… Read more »

Simon Keeling
Simon Keeling
17 years ago

This issue raises a very serious issue about Prison Chaplaincy. “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” The Prison Service pays chaplains. This has serious consequences. Significantly on this latest issue the Chaplain General has remained silent. Yet, he briefed the Prison authorities who closed this course. In these days of openness could his briefing be made generally available? If not, why not? Is it true that the Chaplain General was in Dartmoor Prison the day the course was closed. If so why? In the thrust for equal recognition of faiths, and covenants for chaplains etc. is the Chaplain… Read more »

Mike Dixon
Mike Dixon
17 years ago

I worked in the Prison Service for many years as a Chaplain. what we attempted was a multi faith ministry; this resonates with the conflicts at the cutting edge of world politics. The joy of Christianity and especially Anglicanism is its inclusiveness; we preach and live that inclusiveness. The issues which have always been at the top of my agenda in Prisons were justice equality, forgiveness and any programmes which were exclusive and too particular would fai to meet thereal needs of prisoners and be divisive rather than unifying.

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