Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Senator Brownback Goes To Jail

Sam Brownback in jail?!!  Well, yes.

In a move that some would call prescient, Senator Brownback has gone to spend some time in the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

Food Channel devotees might suggest that perhaps he is an afficianado of bighouse cuisine.  But no, that would be wrong.  Others might suggest that his personal sartorial savoir faire has led him to appreciate fine prison attire.  Sorry, that too would be wrong.  Perhaps he has netflixed one too many George Raft  movies?  No cigar.  (And no, he wasn't there measuring for curtains either.)

The reason Senator Brownback has gone to the State Penitentiary is to highlight the work of religiously-based ministries.


Fresh off of announcing the formation of his exploratory committee as he considers running for president, Sen. Sam Brownback spent a night at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in order highlight what the Right sees as the success of religious-based prison fellowship ministries at reducing violence and recidivism:

Sen. Sam Brownback took his budding presidential campaign to prison this weekend, spent a restless night among inmates and pressed his message that faith can work even to improve the lives of hardened criminals.

Umm, psst, Senator Brownback, perhaps the state pen is not the best place to spend a night early in your presidential "campaign".  (stifled laughing is heard)  Apparently the Senator has decided to throw himself an anvil.

As to the success of those ministries in reducing violence and repeat offenses, their constitutionality is questionable.

Right Wing Watch

The toilets and sinks -- white porcelain ones, like at home -- were in a separate bathroom with partitions for privacy. In many Iowa prisons, metal toilet-and-sink combinations squat beside the bunks, to be used without privacy, a few feet from cellmates.

The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks. More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms.

But the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress. The program -- which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time -- says on its Web site that it seeks "to `cure' prisoners by identifying sin as the root of their problems" and showing inmates "how God can heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past."

Submit or be cast out. And yes, GWB, destroying constitutional protections since 1995.  Or thereabout.    

The Iowa taxpayer-funded ministries program was subsequently ruled unsconstitutional.

Senator Brownback, your cell is ready.        



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