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Case
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Reference no. HKS1518.0
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 1999

Abstract

When the Texas Board of Criminal Justice retains it to administer and provide a wide range of programs for 300 inmates in a prison near Houston, Prison Fellowship Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Reston, Virginia, faces an ambitious "implementation" challenge. It has begun a new initiative it calls InnerChange, an effort to influence more deeply prison inmates, which it had long sought to reform through exposure to Christian teachings and Bible study. Now, through InnerChange, Prison Fellowship, founded in 1976 by former Nixon White House official Charles Colson (who himself served a prison term for his role in Watergate- related crimes), has embarked on a new chapter in those efforts. Texas officials have given Prison Fellowship the chance to run all rehabilitative and treatment programs in one prison. It will receive no funds for its workùbut that could change if, as promised, the new program dramatically reduces the number of inmates who return to crime. Prison Fellowship knows the experiment will be watched closely by other states, as well. Under pressure and scrutiny, it must assemble and oversee a network of volunteers from Houston-area churches who will go into prison and agree to counsel and mentor inmates once they are released. The possibility of missteps is very much on Fellowship officials'' minds as they plot their course.

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Abstract

When the Texas Board of Criminal Justice retains it to administer and provide a wide range of programs for 300 inmates in a prison near Houston, Prison Fellowship Ministries, a non-profit organization based in Reston, Virginia, faces an ambitious "implementation" challenge. It has begun a new initiative it calls InnerChange, an effort to influence more deeply prison inmates, which it had long sought to reform through exposure to Christian teachings and Bible study. Now, through InnerChange, Prison Fellowship, founded in 1976 by former Nixon White House official Charles Colson (who himself served a prison term for his role in Watergate- related crimes), has embarked on a new chapter in those efforts. Texas officials have given Prison Fellowship the chance to run all rehabilitative and treatment programs in one prison. It will receive no funds for its workùbut that could change if, as promised, the new program dramatically reduces the number of inmates who return to crime. Prison Fellowship knows the experiment will be watched closely by other states, as well. Under pressure and scrutiny, it must assemble and oversee a network of volunteers from Houston-area churches who will go into prison and agree to counsel and mentor inmates once they are released. The possibility of missteps is very much on Fellowship officials'' minds as they plot their course.

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