Jails for Jesus
Please punch out and read the whole thing, and old article that reminds you of the problems some “faith based” initiatives create.
Serving out a sentence for burglary, Price showed me pictures of his pre-InnerChange days when he plucked his eyebrows and had long hair. “At one point, I had the Bloods and the Crips fighting over me,” he said with a trace of pride.
Price joined InnerChange because he had “some bad relationships and got let down and hurt so much. I was sick of competing with other queens in the system. In the pris- on environment, people are just not faithful and I was taking a lot of abuse.” At InnerChange, Price was encouraged to grow out his facial hair, lift weights, stop shaving his legs, and abandon “the lifestyle.” The group Price leads — InnerChange plans to have him minister to those “in the lifestyle” when he’s released — is supposed to affect a similar change in the others.
I entered the InnerChange library unattended by any guard or staff. Sitting in the darkened room with Price’s group as he read evangelical texts on homosexuality off a slide projector in a Ben Stein monotone — “Start your life moving.” Click. “In a new direction towards complete manhood.” Click — was a profoundly unsettling experience. It quickly became clear that the other members, Terry Hoffman and James Gavin, were not simply “cross-dressers” but serious sex offenders; Hoffman said he’d attempted to sodomize a blind man, and Gavin had sodomized his four-year-old daughter. Hoffman attended InnerChange because he’d been thrown out of the state-run sex-offender program, which Gavin had completed. As Price shared the trials of growing up gay, Asian, and uncoordinated in “a town smaller than Ellsworth, where sports are everything,” it was clear he was out of his depth.
Privately, Price acknowledged that he’s “really not for sure on how to deal with someone who has a sex crime. Some of the things they bring up from their past — real, real dysfunctional things — go beyond my experience,” he said uneasily. “I don’t know what to say, so I just have us pray together.”
Letting Christ-based programs “cure” sex offenders — exempting them from state programs that employ aversion therapy and normative counseling, and releasing them into society armed primarily with polemics about sin — seems risky, to say the least, but Furnish is confident the state will go for it. “We already offer GED, substance-abuse, and pre-release programs. If we get sex-offender treatment, we’ll have the whole ball of wax for the state at a bargain-basement price,” he said.