Facebook Twitter

Texas jail’s ‘God Pod’ ruled unconstitutional

SHARE Texas jail’s ‘God Pod’ ruled unconstitutional

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Christian-studies jail unit dubbed the "God Pod" violates the constitutional separation of church and state, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled.

"The county cannot . . . convey a message that endorses the personal religious beliefs of county officials in attempting to rehabilitate criminal offenders," Justice Deborah Hankinson wrote in the unanimous ruling June 28.

The court said some religious programs may be allowed, such as hiring a chaplain to help inmates study their own religion. The Tarrant County program, however, went too far, Hankinson wrote.

The Christian Education Unit opened in 1992. The program was voluntary and inmates would participate for up to 120 days.

Two former inmates, one Jewish and the other a Jehovah's Witness, sued, claiming those who refused to participate were treated as second-class citizens within the jail.

The sheriff's office moved the unit's inmates into the general population after the high court issued its decision.