Faith-Based Prison Changes Hardened Criminals

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In Texas, faith is proving to be the antidote to crime.

The state has 156,000 people behind bars, each costing taxpayers $18,000 a year.  Within three years of their release, nearly half are back.

Yet, one maximum security prison in Tennessee Colony, Texas, is changing those statistics by changing the hearts of hardened criminals.

The unit is called Beto 1, where 100 tiny cells are stacked three floors high. It seems just like any other cellblock, until the men start talking.

"E" wing is the faith-based cellblock, one of two at the prison that are trying to use faith to get 400 hardened convicts to change.

Rev. Casey Miner leads the program.

To get into E wing, inmates promise to obey strict rules and practice their religion.  Casey and a team of volunteers spend time, earn trust and teach that faith is the antidote for a life of crime.

Three nights a week they meet for lessons in the chapel.

In the two years the program has been in existance, there have only been five major rule infractions-- four of them for tobacco use.

Even better, 46 men have been released on parole and only one has returned.

*Originally published August 28, 2009

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