Should Government Promote “Faith-Based Interventions” In Prisons And Probation?

Naomi Phillips, the British Humanist Association’s Head of Public Affairs, argues “no”:

The Labour government’s policy was actively to promote “faith-based interventions” in prisons and probation. This was not just to supplement state-provided secular services, but amounted to a policy of commissioning religious organisations to provide those services within the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). This included seeking to hand over programmes to reduce reoffending by young people and adults to religious groups, with few safeguards in place. In line with the deferential discourse around “faith”, there were no measures to stop those groups taking the opportunity to proselytise – the raison d’être of many of evangelical groups actively seeking to work in prisons. In the same breath the government admitted there was “no hard evidence” that faith-based interventions had any direct impact on reoffending rates.

More generally, there is also no evidence to suggest that religious organisations have better outcomes than secular organisations providing public services on behalf of the state. Despite the lack of evidence of its efficacy, religion has begun to have direct influence on the criminal justice system, and it is not yet clear whether the coalition government intends to continue this policy, as it has done with plans to increase state-funded faith schools.

Via Humanist Life.

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