A prison in Kansas allowed prisoners to use their own accounts to buy pizza and chicken wings, with a cut of all the costs going back to the prison… for a house of worship:
The order, which will cost more than $11,000, is part of a fundraiser for the Hutchinson Correctional Center’s planned Spiritual Life Center. The prison will be getting 942 large, hand-tossed pizzas at $8 apiece and will charge inmates $11, with about $3,000 going toward the center.
The Hutchinson News reported that only inmates with good behavioral records got the chance to order pizza and chicken wings for Sunday.
I’m not surprised the money’s going to a Spiritual Life Center — atheists usually don’t end up in prison, if the statistics are accurate — but since this is a state prison, no money should be going to promote religion. How could anyone in a prison break the law like that?! Oh, right…
In case you doubt how inclusive the Spiritual Center is, check out its website:
This is a non-profit project designed to give inmates of all faiths a modern and inspirational space to hold worship services and foster spiritual growth. As a non-profit organization, our goal is to raise community awareness and funds in order to proceed with the project, which will be a benefit not only to the inmates and their families, but also to the Hutchinson and Kansas communities.
It’s not like Humanists can use the center, either. According to reader Peggy:
The correctional facility in El Dorado, Kansas used these same fundraising tactics and have since denied access to their 1.5 million [dollar] Spiritual Life Center to a group of Humanist prisoners who wish to meet [in there]. The prisoner who has tried for two years to be able to have a Humanist group has been thwarted at every turn and the local A.C.L.U. has basically told him that the Correctional Facility is a “Kingdom” and he is just S.O.L.
***Update***: Peggy sent me an update reading:
I have since spoken with the Deputy Warden of programs at the facility and she has indicated that the new facility will be available for all inmates to use regardless of belief or non-belief systems.
They currently have a Wiccan group which meets… and are actively looking for a Humanist volunteer chaplain to conduct call out groups.
The facility in Hutchinson is about 180° different in philosophies than the similar correctional facility in El Dorado which is only an hour and a half away. The leadership differences between the two facilities are night and day. I would say that this satisfies my concerns that this might have been an event which violated the constitution.