Friday, March 14, 2014 has released a new documentary on faith and prisons – "Through the Door," a title that highlights the gate through which Christians walk to visit those in prison and from which emerge those whom Christians should welcome back into society.

Zach Dawes, EthicsDaily's managing editor, will screen the documentary at First Baptist Church of Austin at 901 Trinity in downtown Austin over a four-week period, starting on March 19th. All are invited to attend this free public screening.

At 6:30 pm each week, a segment of 12-14 minutes will be shown, followed by a time for discussion and questions facilitated by Dawes. The topics for the four-part program include:

March 19: The Issues-Substance abuse, mental health, recidivism, punishment versus rehabilitation, and families in crisis.

March 26: The Bible-Moral motivation and the role of faith.

April 2: The People-Negative narratives about offenders, misperceptions about ministers and volunteers, challenges for church members, and overlooked prison officials.

April 9: The Hope-The Next Door, the PLUS Unit and Restorative Justice Ministries Network.

The documentary explores the initiatives of churches and faith-based organizations in Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Interviewees speak to the issues of prescription drug abuse, addiction, mental health, the role of religious volunteers and chaplains, and the often-overlooked stresses of prison officials.

Stories of redemption and hope run through the documentary.

One documentary story of hope relates to an unexpected program at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Ind., where offenders, in a special unit with faith and character tracks, make high quality quilts to give back to their community for the harm they've done.

Another story involves the Nashville-based prison ministry for women, The Next Door, that seeks to meet the abundant needs of women released from prison – helping women stay away from the environments that contributed to their incarceration, job training, parenting programs, mental health treatment and more.

In a special interview, former president Jimmy Carter noted, "the natural inclination on the part of all Americans now to treat the prisons as primarily a place for punishment." This inclination without an "emphasis on rehabilitation and freedom has been a serious departure from basic teachings of Jesus Christ," said Carter.

Other interviewees speak to the tension between retributive (punishment only) and restorative (rehabilitation) justice., a division of the Baptist Center for Ethics, serves as the imprimatur under which the documentaries are produced. See more at


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