Date: December / January 2009
Napo News (The Trade Union and Professional Association for Family Court and Probation Staff) Issue 205
Neil Gerrard, Chair of the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group, has written to the Head of NOMS raising concerns about the operation of the Modern Jesus Army in some of our prisons.
Mr Wheatley has been told that the Modern Jesus Army has, in certain institutions, cold-mailed prisoners, in particular sex offenders, with a leaflet and covering letter.
The leaflet is called Church Alive – Living Christianity.
The letter offers to visit the prisoner during the last three to six months of their sentence, preparing them for discharge.
They then offer prayer, support and practical help.
On release the ex-prisoner is then, allegedly, recruited to the nearest local church, if that is possible.
Napo is unaware how the group obtains the prisoners’ details.
However, Mr Wheatley was told that in certain circumstances, offenders joining the Modern Jesus Army have cited conversion and a new beginning as reasons not to continue with treatment.
The Justice Unions Group concluded that there were concerns that confidential information was getting out of the prisons and worries that the value of the treatment programmes could be undermined.
The Jesus Army has since been in touch with Napo to assure staff that they do not routinely target sex offenders, and that if they do then they liaise with public protection agencies.