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Prisoners 'pretend to convert to Christianity' to get out earlier

Thu 19 Jan 2017
By Antony Bushfield

Prisoners are pretending they have turned to Christianity in a bid to get out on parole earlier, an MP has claimed.

Convicts are telling officials they're turning to God because it means they stand a better chance of being released, David Nuttall has suggested.

Speaking in the House of Commons he called for those released to have their faith monitored to ensure they have not played the system.

He quizzed Dame Caroline Spelman, the Church of England's representative in the Commons, on what steps the Church is taking to ensure its prison chaplains are not being hoodwinked by devious criminals.

He said: "Can you explain what measures are in place to monitor prisoners' commitment to the Christian faith after their release from prison?

"It is sometimes suggested prisoners only start attending church services in the belief and hope that it will help them gain parole.

"If prisoners know at least that their continued adherence to the Christian faith is being monitored, they might at least think twice before trying to take advantage of the genuine support offered by prison chaplains."

Dame Caroline told the MP that chaplains were good at spotting fakes: "Prison chaplains are highly experienced and they welcome all those who show an interest in matters of faith.

"But they have become reasonably expert at spotting those for whom, perhaps, it is a means to a short-term end.

"But I think the important thing to remember is the primary aim is not to check ex-offenders, there is a statutory process for that not a church process, but to encourage whatever degree of personal faith, however small or doubtful, [which] may possibly provide a resource to help that offender go straight."

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