Resolution on Faith-Based Programming

Summary

This Resolution advances a pro-social, constructive culture within correctional facilities by supporting robust access to faith-based programming and religious worship during national and regional emergencies. During a national or regional emergency, or period of modified operations, correctional systems should deploy creative solutions to maintain access to faith-based programming and religious worship. In-person content should resume immediately when the risk is reasonably minimized.

Resolution on Faith-Based Programming

Model Resolution

Whereas, [insert state] is committed to improving the lives of those serving their sentences in correctional facilities and upholds the First Amendment right concerning freedom of religion; and

Whereas, access to rehabilitative programming while incarcerated contributes to a safe and constructive correctional culture and successful reentry; and

Whereas, cognitive-behavioral programs, including those based on religious beliefs, continue to yield strong results after release and decrease the risk of recidivism among participants by 20%;[1] and

Whereas, faith-based programs represent a valuable component of correctional programming; and

Whereas, access to religious worship should be provided in correctional environments in addition to, and not as a substitute for faith-based programming; and

Whereas, participation in-person is a vital component for many religious practices, rites, and rituals; and

Whereas, faith-based programming and religious worship are essential to the expression of faith by individuals who are incarcerated; and

Whereas, national emergencies, and extended periods of modified operations, have led to limited access to faith-based programming and religious worship among incarcerated individuals; and

Whereas, distribution of electronic tablets among those in prisons will guarantee safe, continued access to rehabilitative programming while the threat of COVID-19 persists; and

Whereas, virtual access to faith-based programming and religious worship may be a beneficial short-term measure but not a long-term solution; and

Whereas, the increasingly digital world and recent pandemic-related emergencies have starkly illustrated the need for and availability of methods to creatively provide access to religious programming and worship while controlling for health and safety concerns, including complying with all safety guidance;

Therefore Be It Resolved, that access to faith-based programming and religious worship is essential to a constructive correctional culture, constitutionally guaranteed religious expression, and the success of incarcerated individuals upon their reentry.

Therefore Be It Resolved, this access includes both faith-based programming and religious worship, not one in lieu of another;

Therefore Be It Resolved, that during national and regional emergencies or periods of modified operations, a correctional facility work with care and creativity to accommodate the provision of faith-based and religious content, programs, and worship to prisoners through safe resources and technologies, such as video calls, tablets, etc.;

Therefore Be It Resolved, when national and regional emergencies or periods of modified operations restrict in-person meetings, correctional agencies and state governments should work to safely provide and decrease costs related to digital programming content, video calls, and telephone calls;

Therefore Be It Resolved, in-person faith-based programming and religious worship should resume within a reasonable time after the conclusion of modified operations.