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Becket Fund to Appeal IFI Case in Federal Court

Prisoner Rehab Program to be Defended by Renowned Non-profit Law Firm


Contact: Jennifer Sheran, 678-990-9032 ext. 101, 404-642-7845 cell; Tony Tortorici, 678-990-9032 ext. 104, 404-520-8853 cell, both with the Maximus Group


WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is in the thick of another high-profile lawsuit. The non-profit law firm renowned for protecting the free expression of all religious traditions has been retained to appeal a finding that the highly successful prisoner rehabilitation program called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI), an affiliate of Prison Fellowship, violates the separation of church and state and should be shut down.


The Becket Fund filed notice that it will challenge in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals the ruling against IFI and Prison Fellowship by Judge Robert Pratt in the Iowa District Court. He ruled that the IFI program is unconstitutional and that the IFI and Prison Fellowship should repay the State of Iowa $1.5 million it received under contract over the past six years for its work in the Iowa prison system.


The InnerChange Freedom Initiative is a comprehensive, faith-based pre-release program for prisoners that has enjoyed nearly a decade of dramatic results in changing the lives of hardened criminals by reducing recidivism, enhancing prison security and protecting the public. The vast majority of its funding is provided by private sources.


“Prison Fellowship and IFI are eager to defend the constitutionality of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative program. As we enter into a critical new phase in the appeal process, we are confident that The Becket Fund will provide excellent appellate representation and enable participants in the IFI program to continue to benefit from the important rehabilitation work the program provides in the Iowa prison system and elsewhere,” said Mark Earley, president of Prison Fellowship and former attorney general for the Commonwealth of Virginia. “We retained The Becket Fund to lead this appeal because of the firm’s solid expertise and excellent track record in cases involving religious liberty.”


“We expect to file the InnerChange Freedom Initiative appeal by Sept. 13 and that the court will review our position shortly thereafter,” said Kevin J. (Seamus) Hasson, founder and chairman of The Becket Fund. “We are confident that the court will overturn the earlier ruling and thereby enable IFI to continue its good work in Iowa and elsewhere.”


The Becket Fund is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, interfaith, legal and educational institute dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.


MEDIA NOTE: For more information and interviews please contact:

The Becket Fund, Jennifer Sheran (678) 990-9032

Prison Fellowship and IFI, Michelle Farmer (770) 813-0000