Criminally Unjust: Why American Prison Policy Needs Repair
In the May 24, 2010, issue of America Magazine, Joseph A. Califano Jr., former U.S. Secretary for Health, Education and Welfare, and the founder and chair of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, begins his article by stating, “Consider these three facts. We in the United States make up 5 percent of the world’s population. We consume 66 percent of the world’s illegal drugs. We incarcerate 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.” He concludes the article by saying, “Breaking the cycle of re-arrests and re-incarceration requires breaking the cycle of addiction.”
What the US Catholic Bishops say
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote a document titled, Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice. Responding to the threats to everyday life that are caused by crime and fear of crime, the USCCB tackles the issues of crime and corrections; justice and mercy; and responsibility and treatment. Recognizing that the dignity of the human person applies to both victim and offender, the bishops use scriptural foundations, sacramental and historical heritage, Catholic social teaching, and policy foundations and directions to promote further dialogue and action. Click here to read this important document.
The Diocesan Ministry to the Incarcerated for the Diocese of Cleveland is interested in serving both the incarcerated and their families. We recognize we can’t do everything, so this Resource section provides links to other institutions, both secular and religious, that offer support or information for the incarcerated and their families.
Advocacy and Information
The Church is blessed with many charisms. Some feel comfortable working face-to-face, while others may be more comfortable baking cookies for inmates or working a clothing drive for inmates being released. Not everyone can lead a prison bible study or has the legal skills to mount a court defense. The Advocacy tab contains informative links on many aspects of prison ministry. So whether you are moved to advocate or just want to learn more about a prison issue, this is a good place to start!
The LEAF Ministry is a sister ministry is focused exclusively on helping families cope with an incarceration or reentry. It hosts monthly support meetings where families can anonymously meet and share both the pain and joy of there journey. The site has helpful information for families on a variety of topics including but not limited to:
- First Days – Information on bail basics, commissary accounts, case flow, etc.
- Living with incarceration – Information on coping, preparing children for visits, etc.
- Resource – Books for inmates, recommended children’s books, and other family helpful sites.
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