Sunday, January 17, 2010

Criminal Reformation

The ability of government—or government funded huge bureaucratic programs—to be successful transforming the lives of criminals has been shown to be a dramatic failure, with the national recidivist rate hovering around 70%.

Within Catholic social thought, the truth that deep change—and change from criminality to non-criminality is a very deep change—can only occur within the individual, and most effectively within the relationship with one other or a small community, whose reason for being is to effect that change.

This article from Catholic Culture is helpful.

An excerpt.

“…When we sort this out we gain a new and richer understanding of authentic human development. In recognizing that love both includes and goes beyond justice, we suddenly understand the fundamental message of Catholic social teaching over the past forty years, which Benedict has so recently attempted once again to make clear. It is but a restatement of my earlier point: “Authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, #11).


“In the course of history, it was often maintained that the creation of institutions was sufficient to guarantee the fulfilment of humanity's right to development. Unfortunately, too much confidence was placed in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically. In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone. (#11)

“As I suggested in the previous essay, it is exactly this task of authentic human development that massive bureaucratic programs are by their very nature incapable of fulfilling. Rather, such development is most effectively pursued within the context of a community, among people who know and feel responsible for each other. Within a true community, the needs of individual persons and families can be recognized and addressed with a deeper understanding of each problem and a more human commitment to effective, long term solutions. Similarly, within the context of (properly-motivated) smaller community businesses, the needs of weaker members of the community can be addressed creatively and in a context of solidarity.”