In April of 1997, with the full support of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (tdcj), Prison Fellowship Ministries (pf) launched an unusual correctional experiment?a Faith-Based Pre-Release Program. The program was distinctive in that it was expressly Christian in orientation. The InnerChange Freedom Initiative (ifi), as it would later be named, was officially launched under the recommendation of then-governor George W. Bush. This unique public-private partnership between tdcj and pf represented a first for Texas, if not the country. Technically speaking, ifi is a faith-based program operated by pf through a contract with tdcj. ifi is a largely volunteer driven program that is different from other rehabilitation programs or prison ministries in some profound ways. It represents perhaps the first full-scale attempt to offer comprehensive programming emphasizing education, work, life skills, values restructuring, and one-on-one mentoring in an environment where religious instruction permeates all aspects of the prison environment.
Reanalyzing data previously compiled and analyzed by the Criminal Justice Policy Council of Texas, this study tracks the two-year post-release recidivism rates for those prisoners that entered the ifi program from April of 1997 through January of 1999, and were released from prison prior to September 1, 2000. In addition, this report summarizes the results of an intensive on-site, multi-year field study of ifi, including in-depth interviews with ifi staff and participants.