OKLAHOMA CITY — A tiny town
in Oklahoma is throwing its support behind a push to build a privately run,
faith-based prison that would employ only Christians and attempt to
rehabilitate inmates using biblical concepts.
Bill Robinson, founder of
Corrections Concepts Inc., a Dallas-based nonprofit ministry, said he is living
proof of how ex-criminals can become positive influences in society, with God’s
“God gave me this vision …
to go build a prison,” said Robinson, who was released 38 years ago and has
ministered to inmates since 1985.
The town of Wakita, with 380
residents, hopes to welcome 600 more if the $42 million proposal is approved by
the state Department of Corrections. A 150-acre site near the edge of town —
close to the Oklahoma-Kansas state line — has been selected and the appropriate
paperwork filed, Robinson said.
The facility would house men
who have 12 to 30 months of their sentences remaining, he said. Prisoners would
have to apply and be accepted on the conditions they would work, help subsidize
their incarceration, and accept the faith-based programs and environment.
Bible study and worship
would not be required of inmates, Robinson said.
Jerry Massie, spokesman for
the Department of Corrections, said the state doesn’t have the funds to help
support the bond-underwritten proposal, nor is he sure it can succeed if
“I think it would be
difficult,” Massie said. “There’s an array of needs the inmate population has:
mental health problems, drug addictions. Specializing … in a prison may be
Oklahoma operates three
correctional facilities that incorporate faith- and character-based curriculum
into their educational programs, Massie said. Those have proven successful, he
said, while “maintaining that separation of church and state.”