A very good development within some prisons in the south: Louisiana, as reported in this 2010 article from USA Today; Mississippi, as reported in this 2009 article from USA Today; and Texas, which this article from The Austin-American Statesman reports on.

This is an effort that the Catholic Church needs to emulate.

An excerpt from the Austin-American Statesman article.

“Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday made his first visit to a state prison during his nearly 12 years in office, touring a new seminary program inside a Houston-area lockup that aims to turn hardened felons into ministers behind bars.

“During an hourlong visit to the maximum-security Darrington Unit southwest of Houston, Perry gave the approximately 78 convicts in the program what attendees described as “an inspirational devotional” and then posed for a group photo with the participants.

“It was awesome,” state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said of the surprise visit, which he attended with colleague John Whitmire, D-Houston; Perry’s pastor, Mac Richard of Austin’s Lake Hills Church; and top prison officials.

“You could feel the presence of God in the room,” Patrick said of the unusual gathering of top state officials and a group of hardened criminals who are turning their lives around in the program, which is operated at no cost to Texas taxpayers by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary…

“Patrick and Whitmire said the group of convicts — half of them sophomores in the four-year program, the other half who are freshmen — have an overall B-plus average, an indication of how well the program is working.

“Since it opened, only one convict has dropped out — for a rules violation, officials said.

“The program includes Roman Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and non-denominational Christians, Patrick said.”