(1) The Legislature finds and declares that faith- and character-based programs offered in state and private correctional institutions and facilities have the potential to facilitate inmate institutional adjustment, help inmates assume personal responsibility, and reduce recidivism.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department expand the faith- and character-based initiative through the use of faith- and character-based institutions. The department is encouraged to phase out the faith-based and self improvement dormitory programs and move toward the goal of only implementing faith- and character-based institutions. The department is also encouraged to dedicate and maintain faith- and character-based institutions that serve both male and female inmates at their respective institutions.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature that the department and the private vendors operating private correctional facilities continuously:
(a) Measure recidivism rates for inmates who have participated in faith- and character-based programs.
(b) Increase the number of volunteers who minister to inmates from various faith-based and secular institutions in the community.
(c) Develop community linkages with secular institutions as well as churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faith-based institutions to assist inmates in their release back into the community.
(4)(a) The department shall ensure that an inmate’s faith orientation, or lack thereof, will not be considered in determining admission to a faith- and character-based program and that the program does not attempt to convert an inmate toward a particular faith or religious preference.
(b) The programs shall operate 24 hours a day within the existing correctional facilities and must emphasize the importance of personal responsibility, meaningful work, education, substance abuse treatment, and peer support.
(c) Participation in a program shall be voluntary. Assignment to a program shall be based on evaluation and the length of time the inmate is projected to be assigned to that particular institution. The department may not remove an inmate once assigned to a program except for the purposes of population management, for inmate conduct that may subject the inmate to disciplinary confinement or loss of gain-time, for physical or mental health concerns, or for security or safety concerns.
(5) The department shall ensure that any faith component of any program authorized in this chapter is offered on a voluntary basis and an offender’s faith orientation, or lack thereof, will not be considered in determining admission to such a program and that the program does not attempt to convert an offender toward a particular faith or religious preference.
(6) Within faith- and character-based institutions of the state correctional system, peer-to-peer programming shall be offered, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, literacy instruction, and other activities.
(7) The department shall ensure that state funds are not expended for the purpose of furthering religious indoctrination, but rather, that state funds are expended for purposes of furthering the secular goals of criminal rehabilitation, the successful reintegration of offenders into the community, and the reduction of recidivism.