The California prison system has agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by a prison ministry that had been stopped from sending Bible study materials to inmates who requested them. The Pacific Justice Institute brought the suit after the state prison at Corcoran refused to deliver the literature.
Dale Drozd, federal magistrate judge in Sacramento wrote a 33 page opinion finding that the prison system policy was inconsistent with the First Amendment free exercise of religion clause and the more recent federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.
The Act was made law in 2000 to protect churches from unfair zoning laws and at the same time addressed the question of prisoner rights. Prison chaplains and other soul winners ministering in the prisons have been frustrated for years trying to get the gospel past prison regulations into the hands of the prisoners.
Roman Catholic priests maneuver into the position of head chaplain at a given institution and often block any literature that speaks the truth about the cults. Prison officials often place tight restrictions on anything controversial that might cause differences of opinion in the inmates.They fail to recognize that only the Truth of the gospel has the power to change men`s lives so they will not need incarceration. A paid chaplain in New York was recently suspended for giving tracts to inmates that told the truth about Islam. Since then, a Muslim Imam (priest) has been hired there.
Pacific Justice Institute Chief Counsel Kevin Snider argued the case before the court and negotiated the settlement. He said, "Although we are not unsympathetic to the concerns of the prison officials (about security), a core change in the spiritual condition of the inmates is the most effective security and reform measures available." PJI officials believe that this case will serve as a model for other prisons across the country to follow.
Anyone who would like to contact the Pacific Justice Institute can reach them through their web site at www.pacificjustice.org or by calling (916) 857-6900.