Louisiana inmates could work on churches, synagogues and mosques under proposed bill

| March 2, 2013

Parish prisoners would be able to work in religious buildings including churches, synagogues and mosques under a proposed bill filed in Baton Rouge Thursday, Feb. 21. Bill sponsor state Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said he filed the bill at the request of Rapides Parish Sheriff William Hilton.

Current Louisiana law states sheriffs can approve parish prisoners for work release programs on public roads, levees, streets, public buildings, cemeteries, graveyards and solid waste facilities. If passed, Gallot's bill would add "religious buildings" to the list.

"From a policy standpoint, when you hear the phrase, 'paying your debt to society,' I think this fits squarely within [that]," Gallot said Thursday.

Hilton confirmed he asked for the bill, saying he wanted to be able to offer prison labor to smaller rural churches without nonprofit status. Gallot said he had not consulted with any religious organizations or local churches before filing the bill.

Hilton also said he did not receive specific calls from rural churches to request such a bill but said he knew, "they're going to be all for it." Neither man said they expected religious officials to have privacy or safety warnings with such a work-release program.

When contacted about the bill Thursday, officials from several religious organizations said they were either still considering the bill or choosing not to comment until the bill is considered in the legislative session beginning April 8.



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Category: Church Security

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