November 9 2009 by Bobby Ross Jr., Religion News Service

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A tiny town in Oklahoma is throwing its support behind a push to build a privately run, faith-based prison that would employ only Christians and attempt to rehabilitate inmates using biblical concepts.

    Bill Robinson, founder of Corrections Concepts Inc., a Dallas-based nonprofit ministry, said he is living proof of how ex-criminals can become positive influences in society, with God’s help.

    “God gave me this vision ... to go build a prison,” said Robinson, who was released 38 years ago and has ministered to inmates since 1985.

    The town of Wakita, with 380 residents, hopes to welcome 600 more if the $42 million proposal is approved by the state Department of Corrections. A 150-acre site near the edge of town — close to the Oklahoma-Kansas state line — has been selected and the appropriate paperwork filed, Robinson said.

    The facility would house men who have 12 to 30 months of their sentences remaining, he said. Prisoners would have to apply and be accepted on the conditions they would work, help subsidize their incarceration, and accept the faith-based programs and environment.

    Bible study and worship would not be required of inmates, Robinson said.

    Jerry Massie, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the state doesn’t have the funds to help support the bond-underwritten proposal, nor is he sure it can succeed if approved.

    “I think it would be difficult,” Massie said. “There’s an array of needs the inmate population has: mental health problems, drug addictions. Specializing ... in a prison may be difficult.”

    Oklahoma operates three correctional facilities that incorporate faith- and character-based curriculum into their educational programs, Massie said. Those have proven successful, he said, while “maintaining that separation of church and state.”

    11/9/2009 2:41:00 AM by Bobby Ross Jr., Religion News Service | with 0 comments




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