Source: The Associated Press
On April 15, 2004 The Associated Press reported, "The nation's first faith-based prison for women opened in a Tampa-area detention center Wednesday, nearly five months after a similar program began for men. About 300 female prisoners will be confined at the Hillsborough Correctional Institution, all volunteers who agreed to participate in a program combining vocational classes with worship. Alia Faraj, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush, said the new state prison creates 'an environment that allows and encourages personal growth, self-reflection and character development.' To avoid legal challenges, no state money will be used for religious instruction. Volunteers will provide religious services and materials. Any religion may be represented at the prison, and no prisoner will be required to participate in religious activities, officials said. 'We need to bring humanity back into these people, to humanize them again, and faith is just one way of doing that,' said Diane Conti, a volunteer who will offer inmates a course on Buddhism."