Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Dachau

Writings from the death camps in Nazi Germany have played a part in my formation as a Catholic and chief among them was the seminal book by Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, written about his experience in Auschwitz where he discovered that, regardless of the external situation you were in, you still controlled your internal life; a marker on the path to sainthood.

This book, Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau, will surely have much the same impact on its readers, and the introduction is posted to Ignatius Insight.

An excerpt.

“This story is both ordinary and extraordinary. It is ordinary because Catholic priests and religious were regularly rounded up and sent to concentration camps in large numbers during the nightmare of Nazism in Europe. It is extraordinary, as all such accounts are, because they give us vivid and unforgettable indications of both the depths of depravity and heights of sanctity to which the human race is capable. Father Jean Bernard offers a straightforward picture of how Good and Evil played out around him in his imprisonment in the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. He takes great pains to be accurate about the ever shifting conditions as he witnessed them personally. His strict regard for truth, even in such circumstances, is itself an implicit rejection of the violence built on lies that the Third Reich inflicted everywhere it could. If there is any truth missing in this moving story, it is Father Bernard's own quiet heroism and holiness, which he is too humble to include, but which we may intuit in his primary ¬emphasis on the plight of his fellow inmates.

“People who have not looked carefully at the position of the Catholic Church under the Third Reich may be particularly surprised by this story. The Nazis did not want to exterminate all Catholics, but they most ¬certainly did want to exterminate all Jews, and they nearly succeeded. So the Shoah cannot and should not be described as if the Nazis did as much harm to Catholics as they did to Jews. Yet it is a fact of ¬history that millions of Catholics were murdered in the Nazi camps, and that is something we must never forget.

“During and right after World War II, it was commonly ¬assumed that Christians as well as Jews suffered a great deal ¬under Hitler. Jews were grateful to Catholics and ¬others for such assistance as they were able to provide, and especially esteemed Pope Pius XII, who quite probably saved more Jews from the Nazis than any other single person. That was why Golda Meir, one of the founders and later Prime Minister of the newly ¬created Jewish state of ¬Israel, thanked the pope and honored him among the righteous gentiles: "When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the pope was raised for the victims." Similarly, Moshe Sharett, the second Prime Minister of Israel, remarked after meeting with Pius: "I told him [the Pope] that my first duty was to thank him, and through him the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews. We are deeply grateful to the Catholic Church."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Clash of Civilizations

In 1993 a visionary article, The Clash of Civilizations?, was published in Foreign Affairs by Samuel P. Huntington.

The article had such an impact that a book—The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order—was published in 1996, based on its ideas.

It is a vitally important book, and read now, as I am doing, it is even more evident how prophetic it was.

Here is an excerpt from the article:


“WORLD POLITICS IS entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be -- the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years.

“It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.

“Conflict between civilizations will be the latest phase of the evolution of conflict in the modern world. For a century and a half after the emergence of the modern international system of the Peace of Westphalia, the conflicts of the Western world were largely among princes -- emperors, absolute monarchs and constitutional monarchs attempting to expand their bureaucracies, their armies, their mercantilist economic strength and, most important, the territory they ruled. In the process they created nation states, and beginning with the French Revolution the principal lines of conflict were between nations rather than princes. In 1793, as R. R. Palmer put it, "The wars of kings were over; the ward of peoples had begun." This nineteenth-century pattern lasted until the end of World War I. Then, as a result of the Russian Revolution and the reaction against it, the conflict of nations yielded to the conflict of ideologies, first among communism, fascism-Nazism and liberal democracy, and then between communism and liberal democracy. During the Cold War, this latter conflict became embodied in the struggle between the two superpowers, neither of which was a nation state in the classical European sense and each of which defined its identity in terms of ideology.

“These conflicts between princes, nation states and ideologies were primarily conflicts within Western civilization, "Western civil wars," as William Lind has labeled them. This was as true of the Cold War as it was of the world wars and the earlier wars of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With the end of the Cold War, international politics moves out of its Western phase, and its center-piece becomes the interaction between the West and non-Western civilizations and among non-Western civilizations. In the politics of civilizations, the people and governments of non-Western civilizations no longer remain the objects of history as targets of Western colonialism but join the West as movers and shapers of history.


“DURING THE COLD WAR the world was divided into the First, Second and Third Worlds. Those divisions are no longer relevant. It is far more meaningful now to group countries not in terms of their political or economic systems or in terms of their level of economic development but rather in terms of their culture and civilization.

“What do we mean when we talk of a civilization? A civilization is a cultural entity. Villages, regions, ethnic groups, nationalities, religious groups, all have distinct cultures at different levels of cultural heterogeneity. The culture of a village in southern Italy may be different from that of a village in northern Italy, but both will share in a common Italian culture that distinguishes them from German villages. European communities, in turn, will share cultural features that distinguish them from Arab or Chinese communities. Arabs, Chinese and Westerners, however, are not part of any broader cultural entity. They constitute civilizations. A civilization is thus the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species. It is defined both by common objective elements, such as language, history, religion, customs, institutions, and by the subjective self-identification of people. People have levels of identity: a resident of Rome may define himself with varying degrees of intensity as a Roman, an Italian, a Catholic, a Christian, a European, a Westerner. The civilization to which he belongs is the broadest level of identification with which he intensely identifies. People can and do redefine their identities and, as a result, the composition and boundaries of civilizations change.”

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Harvard’s Hope

A wonderful story of a Harvard valedictorian becoming a nun is in National Review .

An excerpt.

“Don’t tell Mary Anne Marks the Catholic Church is an oppressive, misogynistic disaster. She knows better. And she’s got a Harvard degree, too.

“Miss Marks, a native of Queens, N.Y., graduated from Harvard University this past semester with an undergraduate degree in classics and English, delivering her commencement address in Latin. This fall, she begins a new life, discerning her future consecrated to Christ as a Catholic religious sister with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich. She and I are alumnae of the same high school, Dominican Academy, in Manhattan. Before heading to Ann Arbor, she talked with me a bit about how she got to this point.

“KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: You are a Harvard graduate. Aren’t you surrendering all the possibilities that entails by entering a convent?

“MARY ANNE MARKS: Yes, if one doesn’t see becoming a well-educated, intellectually alive nun as one of the possibilities.

“LOPEZ: I don’t know about you, but I read the New York Times. A number of the op-ed columnists there, and a number of the news stories, tell me that the Catholic Church is anti-woman. And from other stories, about the various scandals, the Catholic Church also sounds like a dying, loser organization of sinners. Why would you choose to represent it in such a public, hard-to-miss way — in a religious habit?

“MARKS: I feel privileged to represent the Catholic Church in a visible way, because it is an organization of sinners and sinners-turned-saints, emphatically alive, expanding, and responsive to the needs of the time, an organization that has been enormously effective in promoting the spiritual and material well-being of women and men throughout the 2,000 years of its existence.

“From its earliest years, the Church’s doctrine of the equality of all humans as beloved children of God and its reverence for Mary as the spouse and mother of God elevated women to a status previously unheard of. In our own times, the Church’s unequivocal opposition to practices such as abortion and contraception, which harm women physically and psychologically, and threaten to render them victims of their own and others’ unchecked desires, makes the Church a lone voice above the chaos, promoting women’s dignity and happiness.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Compstat Updated

This version of the Compstat approach to policing is working marvelously in Memphis, as reported by the Commercial Appeal, as it did when it was first unveiled years ago in New York.

An excerpt.

“The department's Blue CRUSH (Crime Reduction Utilizing Statistical History) initiative uses a daily analysis of computer data to define the city's crime "hot spots" so supervisors know exactly where to put their manpower, Police Director Larry Godwin said.

“Godwin teamed with University of Memphis criminologist Richard Janikowski to help develop Blue CRUSH years ago, and both continually study ways to tweak it.

“Godwin believes the innovative business model has played a key role in reducing crime. He also points to organizational changes since 2005, including sending officers deep under cover to infiltrate gangs and drug rings; creating a felony assault unit to investigate shootings, stabbings and severe beatings; and getting officers reliable equipment.

“The results, according to Janikowski: The city had 28.8 percent fewer crimes during the first six months of 2010, compared with the same period when the program went citywide in 2006. Overall crime dipped from 33,160 reported incidents to 23,598.

“The city also had 28.9 percent fewer violent crimes and 28.8 percent fewer property crimes, according to the professor's crime analysis.

"We're on pace to have 20,000 fewer victims" this year compared with 2006, Godwin announced at a news conference Thursday.

“The downward trend is continuing this year compared with last year, with a 14 percent decrease in overall crime from Jan. 1 to Aug. 19, police statistics show.

“Godwin also credits the drop to an emphasis on accountability from the command staff down to each officer on the street.

“The director created the position of colonel and assigned one at every precinct. Instead of monthly gatherings, he holds weekly meetings where the commanders must answer for crime in their areas.

“So each day, Tillman Station's commander, Col. Jeff Clark, wakes up early, pours a cup of coffee and pecks on his BlackBerry to search for his precinct's crime du jour. That's why on Tuesday, his officers knew they had a problem with daytime residential burglaries and they knew which neighborhoods were being targeted.

"Blue CRUSH is about putting police in the right place on the right day at the right time and you'll either prevent crime or catch someone committing a crime," Janikowski said.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Compstat Process & History

The most effective method of policing yet devised in today’s world of exploding crime, very smart criminals, and a largely un-helpful public, has been Compstat, and this article from the Law & Public Order magazine in 2006 reviews the history of its development from New York City in 1997 through its application in other locations up to 2006.

An excerpt.

“Eleven years have passed since the New York City police department developed and initiated the CompStat process to fight crime. Since then numerous other cities have instituted similar programs in the hope of replicating New York’s success story. The statistics indicate that CompStat is extremely effective in reducing crime, even though some critics still question the efficacy of these programs.

“CompStat, the program that would revolutionize contemporary policing, was initially created with a small business software package named SmartWare. In the early stages, its primary focus was to track crime trends in order to establish a statistical baseline. Incidents of major crime were counted by hand and then mapped in order to identify clusters of criminal activity. CompStat, as it was named by four NYPD officers, would soon become the crown jewel of the Rudolph Giuliani administration.

“William Bratton, who became Giuliani’s first police commissioner, implemented the CompStat program in 1994. From the beginning, it was hailed as an innovative managerial paradigm in policing and was the winner of a 1996 “Innovations in American Government” award.

“Bratton wanted each precinct to collect crime data, enter it into a computer database, and submit the disk each week to the police commissioner’s office. Every commander was held accountable for the crime activity in his precinct and was required to submit a plan for improvement, if necessary. He assigned deputy commissioner Jack Maple and his startup team to oversee the process.

“The CompStat Process

“CompStat (Computerized Statistics, aka Compare Statistics, aka Computer Comparison Statistics) is a goal-oriented, information-driven management process that stresses both operational strategy and managerial accountability. Its goal is to reduce crime and enhance the community’s quality of life. The CompStat process consists of four components: 1) collection and analysis of crime data, 2) Development of strategy to address problems, 3) Rapid deployment of resources, and 4) Follow-up and accountability.

"The process begins by collecting, analyzing and mapping crime data as it occurs. From this, a report is compiled and forwarded to each precinct’s operational manager. After the statistical trends are reviewed and discussed, it is up to the commander to devise effective tactics to address the problem areas. Subordinates are encouraged to utilize aggressive problem-solving strategies that will result in a reduction in crime.

"Once a plan of action is formulated, commanders must then deploy personnel and resources in a timely manner. This is often the most challenging element of CompStat, due to conflicting work schedules and limited funds for overtime. In most cases, proactive personnel are assigned to the CompStat issues, while the balance of the force attends to daily operations. Finally, the precinct commanders must determine if the intended goals were met and, if not, must come up with alternative strategies to effectively address the problem.

"CompStat and the NYPD

"The New York City Police Department holds bi-weekly CompStat meetings, which have proven to be an effective motivator for precinct commanders. Each commander is required to present an overview of police activity within his command and the strategies for addressing crime and quality of life issues. These briefings provide the commanders an opportunity to impress both their peers and law enforcement executives. This middle-down, middle-up approach is unique to CompStat and emphasizes the importance of accountability.

"Generally, CompStat’s effectiveness in reducing crime has been validated through numerous statistical data since its inception. As of 2003, serious crime in New York City dropped for the 13th consecutive year. This is quite an accomplishment if we consider the demands placed on the NYPD’s law enforcement personnel since 9/11. One specific program, “Operation Impact,” focused on 21 crime zones within the city and resulted in a 40% drop in shootings and other violent crimes.

"Despite these impressive statistics, CompStat has detractors. Some suggest that using New York City as an example of CompStat’s success is unfair. As the largest police department in the country, the NYPD may not be representative of other departments. Questions are still unanswered as to CompStat’s effectiveness in other cities that have adopted the program. Other critics suggest that the NYPD’s reduction in crime cannot be exclusively attributed to CompStat since there has also been a general nationwide drop in crime.

"Progeny of CompStat

"The CompStat model has been adopted in numerous U.S. cities under various acronyms. The Baltimore City Police Department utilizes CRIMESTAC (crime tracking and analysis) while the Indianapolis Police Department has IMAP, short for Integrated Management of Patrol.

"The Lowell, MA Police Department implemented its own crime control program in 1996 and the results have been remarkable. During the first three-year period (1996-1999) violent crimes fell 26.0% and property crimes dropped 35.2%. Lowell was one of the first police departments to receive a federal COPS grant to install laptops in its patrol cars, giving officers instant access to computer-generated crime data.

"While Lowell’s crime-reduction program is patterned after CompStat, the debates that are generated at the bi-monthly meetings are generally more good-natured than the intense interrogations of the New York Police Department. This seems to indicate that negative reinforcement aimed at an underperforming officer is not essential for improvement. Instead, the pressure to improve performance is generated through accurate data pinpointing problems to both commanders and peers.

"Lowell’s success can be attributed to the basic elements of CompStat: up-to-date data, cooperation in developing strategy, flexible allocation of resources, and tireless follow-through. The addition of inter-departmental cooperation, community-oriented policing and innovative uses of technology has allowed Lowell to fine-tune the process to fit its needs."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Constructing Reentry

A field that generally cares more about the work you can do than the past you have lived is construction, and this story from the New York Times reports how it can be a field for reentry for those with the appropriate skills and temperament.

An excerpt.

“THE call came at 9:30 at night from the police detective, asking me about one of my carpenters. The detective was doing a follow-up investigation on a domestic disturbance and wanted to ask a few questions. Fine, no problem, I said — thinking of the big job we were in the middle of and how much I was depending on that carpenter.

“I had never known much about my helper’s personal life, although we considered ourselves friends. I knew that there were problems in the background, but they never came to work with him. He’d take a day off now and then for vague personal reasons, but that was all I ever heard of it, and I didn’t pry. He was quiet and hard-working. He mangled his grammar and had dropped out of high school, but he was a natural at remodeling.

“He had an instinctive understanding of building and materials that can’t be taught, and I could count on him to figure out tough problems without whining or major screw-ups. He paid attention to the whole job, not just his part of it, and if I made a mistake, he’d usually catch it. He had that sweet, steady rhythm to his work that good carpenters seem born with. You can see it in the way the hands move.

“I tend to hire people I like personally — no indicator of talent, but I have to spend a lot of time with them. I’ve discovered over the years that I’m drawn to people who have a little bit of darkness in them — people who have peeked over the edge, maybe even gone over it, at some point in their lives.

“People with this kind of background are not uncommon in remodeling, probably because it’s one of the dwindling number of mentally challenging careers that require almost nothing in the way of qualifications except a strong back, common sense and a willingness to work hard.

“For people who’ve been unable to fit into standardized corporate slots, or haven’t passed the tests or graduated at the top of their class, construction can offer a rare second or third chance.

“Sitting in my van the next morning, I tried to imagine what, if anything, I might say to my helper, assuming he showed up. Among the crowd of carpenters who’ve passed through my life have been a paroled murderer, a convicted felon and several others who were familiar with jail. The murderer was one of the best people I ever worked with.

“A few had gotten D.W.I.’s or had gone through drug rehab. One man — a charming, gap-toothed roofer with a weakness for bar fights — had worn a clunky ankle monitor to work for two months. I heard stories of spectacular, alcohol-fueled fights ending with clothes thrown out windows, calls to the police and court dates; often there were new phone numbers for a week or two. On some Mondays, I could almost hear the sighs of relief to be back at work, away from personal lives gone haywire.

“My own history has also been somewhat irregular, and at times I’ve been a cause of concern for loved ones. I know what failure and shame are. To corporate H.R. departments, my résumé is full of red flags: false starts in unrelated fields, all quickly abandoned; unexplainable gaps (what happened to 1997 and 2002?); and jobs like that of New York cab driver that could have been adventurous and intriguing except that they lasted way too long.

“I went into construction in part because I wasn’t much good at anything else I’d tried. I started at the bottom, doing dirty, menial jobs and not always doing them right.

“At first, it was hard to shake feelings of humiliation, hard not to compare my status with that of the professionals and executives I worked for. But then I began to notice how much I could express just by cutting and pounding wood. A few years later, with a respectable body of work under my belt, I finally understood that the ability to imagine and then build where nothing had existed before was an ability worth valuing.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crime Prediction

There is a certain symmetry here, that because criminals operate often from opportunity, if one can map the crime opportunities, then increase police there—uniformed and undercover—it might work with some consistency.

However, criminals also act spontaneously, and often see opportunities where no one else does, even other criminals, so in that respect, I wouldn’t place too awfully much value in this new technology reported by the Los Angeles Times.

An excerpt.

“Predictive policing is rooted in the notion that it is possible, through sophisticated computer analysis of information about previous crimes, to predict where and when crimes will occur. At universities and technology companies in the U.S. and abroad, scientists are working to develop computer programs that, in the most optimistic scenarios, could enable police to anticipate, and possibly prevent, many types of crime.

“Some of the most ambitious work is being done at UCLA, where researchers are studying the ways criminals behave in urban settings.

“One, who recently left UCLA to teach at Santa Clara University near San Jose is working to prove he can forecast the time and place of crimes using the same mathematical formulas that seismologists use to predict the distribution of aftershocks from an earthquake.

“Another builds computer simulations of criminals roving through city neighborhoods in order to better understand why they tend to cluster in certain areas and how they disperse when police go looking for them.

"The naysayers want you to believe that humans are too complex and too random — that this sort of math can't be done," said Jeff Brantingham, a UCLA anthropologist who is helping to supervise the university's predictive policing project.

"But humans are not nearly as random as we think," he said. "In a sense, crime is just a physical process, and if you can explain how offenders move and how they mix with their victims, you can understand an incredible amount."

“The LAPD has positioned itself aggressively at the center of the predictive policing universe, forging ties with the UCLA team and drawing up plans for a large-scale experiment to test whether predictive policing tools actually work. The department is considered a front-runner to beat out other big-city agencies in the fall for a $3-million U.S. Justice Department grant to conduct the multiyear tests.

“LAPD officials have begun to imagine what a department built around predictive tools would look like.

“Automated, detailed crime forecasts tailored to each of the department's 21 area stations would be streamed several times a day to commanders, who would use them to make decisions about where to deploy officers in the field.

“For patrol officers on the streets, mapping software on in-car computers and hand-held devices would show continuous updates on the probability of various crimes occurring in the vicinity, along with the addresses and background information about paroled ex-convicts living in the area.

“In turn, information gathered by officers from suspects, witnesses and victims would be fed in real time into a technology nerve center where predictive computer programs churn through huge crime databases.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Catholic Teaching & St. Thomas Aquinas

The tragedy of Catholic universities was deftly addressed by Anne Hendershott in her marvelous book: Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education, and this article from The Catholic Thing notes the importance of teaching the works of our greatest thinker, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, and the Catholic Encyclopedia notes his final days:

An excerpt.

“On 6 December, 1273, he laid aside his pen and would write no more. That day he experienced an unusually long ecstasy during Mass; what was revealed to him we can only surmise from his reply to Father Reginald, who urged him to continue his writings: "I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value" (modica, Prümmer, op. cit., p. 43). The "Summa theologica" had been completed only as far as the ninetieth question of the third part (De partibus poenitentiae).

“Thomas began his immediate preparation for death. Gregory X, having convoked a general council, to open at Lyons on 1 May, 1274, invited St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure to take part in the deliberations, commanding the former to bring to the council his treatise "Contra errores Graecorum" (Against the Errors of the Greeks). He tried to obey, setting out on foot in January, 1274, but strength failed him; he fell to the ground near Terracina, whence he was conducted to the Castle of Maienza, the home of his niece the Countess Francesca Ceccano. The Cistercian monks of Fossa Nuova pressed him to accept their hospitality, and he was conveyed to their monastery, on entering which he whispered to his companion: "This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it" (Psalm 131:14). When Father Reginald urged him to remain at the castle, the saint replied: "If the Lord wishes to take me away, it is better that I be found in a religious house than in the dwelling of a lay person." The Cistercians were so kind and attentive that Thomas's humility was alarmed. "Whence comes this honour", he exclaimed, "that servants of God should carry wood for my fire!" At the urgent request of the monks he dictated a brief commentary on the Canticle of Canticles.

“The end was near; extreme unction was administered. When the Sacred Viaticum was brought into the room he pronounced the following act of faith:

“If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament . . . I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied, and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life.”

“He died on 7 March, 1274.”

An excerpt from the article in The Catholic Thing.

“As students are beginning to arrive at our more than 250 Catholic colleges and universities in America for a new academic year, it’s a good thing for those who care about the Catholic tradition to recall a little recent history.

“In 1879, Pope Leo XIII published the encyclical letter Aeterni Patris, in which he called for an intellectual revival based on the “perennial philosophy” of Thomas Aquinas. In the years following, there was a remarkable flourishing of the Catholic intellectual life as institutes were founded and university curricula were redesigned in fidelity to Leo’s call for reform.

“In 1998, Pope John Paul II published the encyclical letter Fides et Ratio, in which he too called for a Catholic intellectual revival, one based on a renewed appreciation for the necessary dialogue between faith and reason. That would involve re-discovering the metaphysical and sapiential dimensions of philosophy, as well as the formulation of an integrative vision of human knowledge to counteract the fragmentation of knowledge that characterize the various disciplines in the modern university.

“In the years since, there has been a remarkable silence about Pope John Paul’s call for renewal as Catholic colleges and universities continue on as usual, as though the encyclical were never written, or else they pretend that by doing nothing different and merely re-describing their usual practices in more “integrative” language, they can fool people into thinking they’ve been faithful to John Paul II’s vision….

“The late Fr. James Weisheipl once suggested in a wonderful article on “The Revival of Thomism” (available on-line here http://www.domcentral.org/study/revival.htm ): “Historically speaking, it must be admitted that Catholic textbooks in philosophy produced during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century were very much ‘up to date’ in the sense of being modern. The latest findings of modern science were incorporated; the Bible and post Cartesian philosophers were generously quoted, while Aristotle and scholastic philosophers were rarely mentioned, except in an historical survey.”

“Breaking with all this “being-up-to-date-ness” and returning to the roots of their own Catholic tradition made possible a new flowering of Catholic intellectual life. Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan, Edith Stein, Henri de Lubac, Josef Pieper, Jacques Maritain, Yves Simon, Flannery O’Connor, Pope John Paul II — the list goes on and on — all of whom owe much of their intellectual formation to that Thomistic revival. In nearly every case, such scholars went beyond their Thomistic training and developed their thought in differing directions – a good teacher could ask for nothing more – but the formation they received studying the thought of Thomas Aquinas gave them a solid foundation on which to build. It also gave them a common language and set of categories with which they could enter into dialogue both with their Catholic peers and their secular counterparts. Such are the benefits of being formed in the “perennial philosophy” of the “Common Doctor.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good from Evil

A wonderful story, from the Houston Chronicle, of a man whose tragedy has been woven into triumph.

Our prayers are with him and his work.

An excerpt.

“Michael Anthony Green fiddled with his cell phone, the second one he has owned since he was freed from prison less than a month ago.

"If my little phone has all that it has on it, I can just imagine the vastness of the computer and the knowledge I can gain from it," Green said Wednesday. "That's the one thing I love to do is educate myself."

“His first phone was stolen outside Harris County's law library on Saturday. He was there doing legal research for Bob Wicoff, the lawyer who helped him get out of prison and then hired him to write briefs and interview inmates. Wednesday officially was his first day on the job.

"Mike could really change the world," Wicoff said of his new employee. "He's in a position to be instrumental in making all sorts of important changes in Austin, with new legislation. His case could be an example of the changes we need to make."

“But first, Green, who spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, said he has to learn about computers. He wants to become a paralegal to help other inmates he says are wrongfully imprisoned.

"I love the law, and I want to try to get some of the other fellows out," the 45-year-old said.

“In 1983, Green was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the rape of a Houston woman because of faulty eyewitness identification. DNA evidence has cleared Green from any involvement in the case. He was freed July 30 but still has to be declared actually innocent. If he is, Green stands to receive more than $2 million from the state. Nonetheless, he plans to continue to work.

"That's how I'm going to live. Regardless of the compensation money, I'm still going to work," he said.

“Since his release, Green said he has been spending his days catching up with family. At night, he watches television and has trouble sleeping.

"I didn't sleep for three days after I got out," he said.

“A room for mementos

“He is kept awake by the newfound freedom to do whatever he wants, he said. Some nights he spends hours walking around the suburban block where he is staying with family.

“Eventually, Green said, he would like to buy a small house. One room will be set aside, he said, to display mementos related to his time behind bars, including the shoes he wore on his last day in prison, newspaper clippings of exonerated prisoners and the typewriter he used to type the 13-page motion requesting the DNA testing that ultimately freed him.

"There is a lot of typing in 13 pages," the hunt-and-peck typist said.”

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Virtual Prison

An interesting article from The Atlantic about new technologies that can be used to track convicted criminals.

An excerpt.

“ONE SNOWY NIGHT last winter, I walked into a pizzeria in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, with my right pant leg hiked up my shin. A pager-size black box was strapped to my sockless ankle, and another, somewhat larger unit dangled in a holster on my belt. Together, the two items make up a tracking device called the BI ExacuTrack AT: the former is designed to be tamper-resistant, and the latter broadcasts the wearer’s location to a monitoring company via GPS. The device is commonly associated with paroled sex offenders, who wear it so authorities can keep an eye on their movements. Thus my experiment: an online guide had specified that the restaurant I was visiting was a “family” joint. Would the moms and dads, confronted with my anklet, identify me as a possible predator and hustle their kids back out into the cold?

“Well, no, not in this case. Not a soul took any notice of the gizmos I wore. The whole rig is surprisingly small and unobtrusive, and it allowed me to eat my slice in peace. Indeed, over the few days that I posed as a monitored man, the closest I came to feeling a real stigma was an encounter I had at a Holiday Inn ice machine, where a bearded trucker type gave me a wider berth than I might otherwise have expected. All in all, it didn’t seem like such a terrible fate.

“Unlike most of ExacuTrack’s clientele, of course, I wore my device by choice and only briefly, to find out how it felt and how people reacted to it. By contrast, a real sex offender—or any of a variety of other lawbreakers, including killers, check bouncers, thieves, and drug users—might wear the unit or one like it for years, or even decades. He (and the offender is generally a “he”) would wear it all day and all night, into the shower and under the sheets—perhaps with an AC adapter cord snaking out into a wall socket for charging. The device would enable the monitoring company to follow his every move, from home to work to the store, and, in consultation with a parole or probation officer, to keep him away from kindergartens, playgrounds, Jonas Brothers concerts, and other places where kids congregate. Should he decide to snip off the anklet (the band is rubber, and would succumb easily to pruning shears), a severed cable would alert the company that he had tampered with the unit, and absent a very good excuse he would likely be sent back to prison. Little wonder that the law-enforcement officer who installed my ExacuTrack noted that he was doing me a favor by unboxing a fresh unit: over their lifetimes, many of the trackers become encrusted with the filth and dead skin of previous bearers, some of whom are infected with prison plagues such as herpes or hepatitis. Officers clean the units and replace the straps between users, but I strongly preferred not to have anything rubbing against my ankle that had spent years rubbing against someone else’s.

“Increasingly, GPS devices such as the one I wore are looking like an appealing alternative to conventional incarceration, as it becomes ever clearer that, in the United States at least, traditional prison has become more or less synonymous with failed prison. By almost any metric, our practice of locking large numbers of people behind bars has proved at best ineffective and at worst a national disgrace. According to a recent Pew report, 2.3 million Americans are currently incarcerated—enough people to fill the city of Houston. Since 1983, the number of inmates has more than tripled and the total cost of corrections has jumped sixfold, from $10.4 billion to $68.7 billion. In California, the cost per inmate has kept pace with the cost of an Ivy League education, at just shy of $50,000 a year.

“This might make some sense if crime rates had also tripled. But they haven’t: rather, even as crime has fallen, the sentences served by criminals have grown, thanks in large part to mandatory minimums and draconian three-strikes rules—politically popular measures that have shown little deterrent effect but have left the prison system overflowing with inmates. The vogue for incarceration might also make sense if the prisons repaid society’s investment by releasing reformed inmates who behaved better than before they were locked up. But that isn’t the case either: half of those released are back in prison within three years. Indeed, research by the economists Jesse Shapiro of the University of Chicago and M. Keith Chen of Yale indicates that the stated purpose of incarceration, which is to place prisoners under harsh conditions on the assumption that they will be “scared straight,” is actively counterproductive. Such conditions—and U.S. prisons are astonishingly harsh, with as many as 20 percent of male inmates facing sexual assault—typically harden criminals, making them more violent and predatory. Essentially, when we lock someone up today, we are agreeing to pay a large (and growing) sum of money merely to put off dealing with him until he is released in a few years, often as a greater menace to society than when he went in.”

Friday, August 20, 2010

C.S. Lewis on Capital Punishment

In this remarkable article from 1954, C.S. Lewis resolves the quandary many have around deterrence, rehabilitation, and justice by correctly connecting punishment—as St. Thomas Aquinas did—to justice.

The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment
C.S. Lewis

"In England we have lately had a controversy about Capital Punishment. I do not know whether a murderer is more likely to repent and make good on the gallows a few weeks after his trial or in the prison infirmary thirty years later. I do not know whether the fear of death is an indispensable deterrent. I need not, for the purpose of this article, decide whether it is a morally permissible deterrent. Those are questions which I propose to leave untouched. My subject is not Capital Punishment in particular, but that theory of punishment in general which the controversy showed to be called the Humanitarian theory. Those who hold it think that it is mild and merciful. In this I believe that they are seriously mistaken. I believe that the “Humanity” which it claims is a dangerous illusion and disguises the possibility of cruelty and injustice without end. I urge a return to the traditional or Retributive theory not solely, not even primarily, in the interests of society, but in the interests of the criminal.

"According to the Humanitarian theory, to punish a man because he deserves it, and as much as he deserves, is mere revenge, and, therefore, barbarous and immoral. It is maintained that the only legitimate motives for punishing are the desire to deter others by example or to mend the criminal. When this theory is combined, as frequently happens, with the belief that all crime is more or less pathological, the idea of mending tails off into that of healing or curing and punishment becomes therapeutic. Thus it appears at first sight that we have passed from the harsh and self-righteous notion of giving the wicked their deserts to the charitable and enlightened one of tending the psychologically sick. What could be more amiable? One little point which is taken for granted in this theory needs, however, to be made explicit. The things done to the criminal, even if they are called cures, will be just as compulsory as they were in the old days when we called them punishments. If a tendency to steal can be cured by psychotherapy, the thief will no doubt be forced to undergo the treatment. Otherwise, society cannot continue.

"My contention is that this doctrine, merciful though it appears, really means that each one of us, from the moment he breaks the law, is deprived of the rights of a human being.

"The reason is this. The Humanitarian theory removes from Punishment the concept of Desert. But the concept of Desert is the only connecting link between punishment and justice. It is only as deserved or undeserved that a sentence can be just or unjust. I do not here contend that the question ‘Is it deserved?’ is the only one we can reasonably ask about a punishment. We may very properly ask whether it is likely to deter others and to reform the criminal. But neither of these two last questions is a question about justice. There is no sense in talking about a ‘just deterrent’ or a ‘just cure’. We demand of a deterrent not whether it is just but whether it will deter. We demand of a cure not whether it is just but whether it succeeds. Thus when we cease to consider what the criminal deserves and consider only what will cure him or deter others, we have tacitly removed him from the sphere of justice altogether; instead of a person, a subject of rights, we now have a mere object, a patient, a ‘case’.

"The distinction will become clearer if we ask who will be qualified to determine sentences when sentences are no longer held to derive their propriety from the criminal’s deservings. On the old view the problem of fixing the right sentence was a moral problem. Accordingly, the judge who did it was a person trained in jurisprudence; trained, that is, in a science which deals with rights and duties, and which, in origin at least, was consciously accepting guidance from the Law of Nature, and from Scripture. We must admit that in the actual penal code of most countries at most times these high originals were so much modified by local custom, class interests, and utilitarian concessions, as to be very imperfectly recognizable. But the code was never in principle, and not always in fact, beyond the control of the conscience of the society. And when (say, in eighteenth-century England) actual punishments conflicted too violently with the moral sense of the community, juries refused to convict and reform was finally brought about. This was possible because, so long as we are thinking in terms of Desert, the propriety of the penal code, being a moral question, is a question n which every man has the right to an opinion, not because he follows this or that profession, but because he is simply a man, a rational animal enjoying the Natural Light. But all this is changed when we drop the concept of Desert. The only two questions we may now ask about a punishment are whether it deters and whether it cures. But these are not questions on which anyone is entitled to have an opinion simply because he is a man. He is not entitled to an opinion even if, in addition to being a man, he should happen also to be a jurist, a Christian, and a moral theologian. For they are not question about principle but about matter of fact; and for such cuiquam in sua arte credendum (we must believe the expert in his own field) Only the expert ‘penologist’ (let barbarous things have barbarous names), in the light of previous experiment, can tell us what is likely to deter: only the psychotherapist can tell us what is likely to cure. It will be in vain for the rest of us, speaking simply as men, to say, ‘but this punishment is hideously unjust, hideously disproportionate to the criminal’s deserts’. The experts with perfect logic will reply, ‘but nobody was talking about deserts. No one was talking about punishment in your archaic vindictive sense of the word. Here are the statistics proving that this treatment deters. Here are the statistics proving that this other treatment cures. What is your trouble?

"The Humanitarian theory, then, removes sentences from the hands of jurists whom the public conscience is entitled to criticize and places them in the hands of technical experts whose special sciences do not even employ such categories as rights or justice. It might be argued that since this transference results from an abandonment of the old idea of punishment, and, therefore, of all vindictive motives, it will be safe to leave our criminals in such hands. I will not pause to comment on the simple-minded view of fallen human nature which such a belief implies. Let us rather remember that the ‘cure’ of criminals is to be compulsory; and let us then watch how the theory actually works in the mind or the Humanitarian. The immediate starting point of this article was a letter I read in one of our Leftist weeklies. The author was pleading that a certain sin, now treated by our laws as a crime, should henceforward be treated as a disease. And he complained that under the present system the offender, after a term in gaol, was simply let out to return to his original environment where he would probably relapse. What he complained of was not the shutting up but the letting out. On his remedial view of punishment the offender should, of course, be detained until he was cured. And or course the official straighteners are the only people who can say when that is. The first result of the Humanitarian theory is, therefore, to substitute for a definite sentence (reflecting to some extent the community’s moral judgment on the degree of ill-desert involved) an indefinite sentence terminable only by the word of those experts—and they are not experts in moral theology nor even in the Law of Nature—who inflict it. Which of us, if he stood in the dock, would not prefer to be tried by the old system?

"It may be said that by the continued use of the word punishment and the use of the verb ‘inflict’ I am misrepresenting Humanitarians. They are not punishing, not inflicting, only healing. But do not let us be deceived by a name. To be taken without consent from my home and friends; to lose my liberty; to undergo all those assaults on my personality which modern psychotherapy knows how to deliver; to be re-made after some pattern of ‘normality’ hatched in a Vienese laboratory to which I never professed allegiance; to know that this process will never end until either my captors have succeeded or I grown wise enough to cheat them with apparent success—who cares whether this is called Punishment or not? That it includes most of the elements for which any punishment is feared—shame, exile, bondage, and years eaten by the locust—is obvious. Only enormous ill-desert could justify it; but ill-desert is the very conception which the Humanitarian theory has thrown overboard.

"If we turn from the curative to the deterrent justification of punishment we shall find the new theory even more alarming. When you punish a man in terrorem, (to cause terror) make of him an ‘example’ to others, you are admittedly using him as a means to an end; someone else’s end. This, in itself, would be a very wicked thing to do. On the classical theory of Punishment it was of course justified on the ground that the man deserved it. That was assumed to be established before any question of ‘making him an example arose’ arose. You then, as the saying is, killed two birds with one stone; in the process of giving him what he deserved you set an example to others. But take away desert and the whole morality of the punishment disappears. Why, in Heaven’s name, am I to be sacrificed to the good of society in this way?—unless, of course, I deserve it.

"But that is not the worst. If the justification of exemplary punishment is not to be based on dessert but solely on its efficacy as a deterrent, it is not absolutely necessary that the man we punish should even have committed the crime. The deterrent effect demands that the public should draw the moral, ‘If we do such an act we shall suffer like that man.’ The punishment of a man actually guilty whom the public think innocent will not have the desired effect; the punishment of a man actually innocent will, provided the public think him guilty. But every modern State has powers which make it easy to fake a trial. When a victim is urgently needed for exemplary purposes and a guilty victim cannot be found, all the purposes of deterrence will be equally served by the punishment (call it ‘cure’ if you prefer0 of an innocent victim, provided that the public can be cheated into thinking him will be so wicked. The punishment of an innocent, that is, an undeserving, man is wicked only if we grant the traditional view that righteous punishment means deserved punishment. Once we have abandoned that criterion, all punishments have to be justified, if at all, on other grounds that have nothing to do with desert. Where the punishment of the innocent can be justified on those grounds (and it could in some cases be justified as a deterrent) it will be no less moral than any other punishment. Any distaste for it on the part of the Humanitarian will be merely a hang-over from the Retributive theory.

"It is, indeed, important to notice that my argument so far supposes no evil intentions on the part of the Humanitarian and considers only what is involved in the logic of his position. My contention is that good men (not bad men) consistently acting upon that position would act as cruelly and unjustly as the greatest tyrants. They might in some respects act even worse. Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. But to be punished, however severely, because we have deserved it, because we ‘ought to have known better’, is to be treated as a human person made in God’s image.

"In reality, however, we must face the possibility of bad rulers armed with a Humanitarian theory of punishment. A great many popular blue prints for a Christian society are merely what the Elizabethans called ‘eggs in moonshine’ because they assume that the whole society is Christian or that the Christians are in control. This is not so in most contemporary States. Even if it were, our rulers would still be fallen men, and, therefore neither very wise nor very good. As it is, they will usually be unbelievers. And since wisdom and virtue are not the only or the commonest qualifications for a place in the government, they will not often be even the best unbelievers.

"The practical problem of Christian politics is not that of drawing up schemes for a Christian society, but that of living as innocently as we can with unbelieving fellow-subjects under unbelieving rulers who will never be perfectly wise and good and who will sometimes be very wicked and very foolish. And when they are wicked the Humanitarian theory of punishment will put in their hands a finer instrument of tyranny than wickedness ever had before. For if crime and disease are to be regarded as the same thing, it follows that any state of mind which our masters choose to call ‘disease’ can be treated as a crime; and compulsorily cured. It will be vain to plead that states of mind which displease government need not always involve moral turpitude and do not therefore always deserve forfeiture of liberty. For our masters will not be using the concepts of Desert and Punishment but those of disease and cure. We know that one school of psychology already regards religion as a neurosis. When this particular neurosis becomes inconvenient to government, what is to hinder government from proceeding to ‘cure’ it? Such ‘cure’ will, of course, be compulsory; but under the Humanitarian theory it will not be called by the shocking name of Persecution. No one will blame us for being Christians, no one will hate us, no one will revile us. The new Nero will approach us with the silky manners of a doctor, and though all will be in fact as compulsory as the tunica molesta [flaming shirt, used to execute criminals in ancient Rome] or Smithfield or Tyburn, all will go on within the unemotional therapeutic sphere where words like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery’ are never heard. And thus when the command is given, every prominent Christian in the land may vanish overnight into Institutions for the Treatment of the Ideologically Unsound, and it will rest with the expert gaolers to say when (if ever) they are to re-emerge. But it will not be persecution. Even if the treatment is painful, even if it is life-long, even if it is fatal, that will be only a regrettable accident; the intention was purely therapeutic. In ordinary medicine there were painful operations and fatal operations; so in this. But because they are ‘treatment’, not punishment, they can be criticized only by fellow-experts and on technical grounds, never by men as men and on grounds of justice.

"This is why I think it essential to oppose the Humanitarian theory of punishment, root and branch, wherever we encounter it. It carries on its front a semblance of mercy which is wholly false. That is how it can deceive men of good will. The error began, with Shelley’s statement that the distinction between mercy and justice was invented in the courts of tyrants. It sounds noble, and was indeed the error of a noble mind. But the distinction is essential. The older view was that mercy ‘tempered’ justice, or (on the highest level of all) that mercy and justice had met and kissed. The essential act of mercy was to pardon; and pardon in its very essence involves the recognition of guilt and ill-desert in the recipient. If crime is only a disease which needs cure, not sin which deserves punishment, it cannot be pardoned. How can you pardon a man for having a gumboil or a club foot? But the Humanitarian theory wants simply to abolish Justice and substitute Mercy for it. This means that you start being ‘kind’ to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which no on but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties. You have overshot the mark. Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful. That is the important paradox. As there are plants which will flourish only in mountain soil, so it appears that Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice; transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety. But we ought long ago to have learned our lesson. We should be too old now to be deceived by those humane pretensions which have served to usher in every cruelty of the revolutionary period in which we live. These are the ‘precious balms’ which will ‘break our heads’.

"There is a fine sentence in Bunyan: ‘It came burning hot into my mind, whatever he said, and however he flattered, when he got me home to his House, he would sell me for a Slave.’ There is a fine couplet, too, in John Ball:

"‘Be war or ye be wo; Knoweth your frend from your foo.’"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Criminal Records

The increasing availability of criminal records to increase public safety through knowledge, is a good thing, but it imposes the responsibility—which should not be considered an imposition—for reformed criminals to accept the stringent requirements society places on them as just recompense for their crimes and seek housing and work where ever they can find them, rather than relying on the expectations enjoyed by the law-abiding.

This story from the Salt Lake Tribune examines the issue.

An excerpt.

“Ogden • Not only was Joseph Sambrano following the rules of his parole, he was doing so well he received a job as a security guard at his apartment building. …

“Despite that, Ogden City wants Sambrano out of Park Avenue. Building management will evict him to save money.

“Park Avenue belongs to the Ogden Good Landlord program, which discounts business licenses for landlords who follow its rules, and having tenants on probation or parole is a violation.

“Sambrano does not know where he and his nephew will go next.

“I’ve talked to about 30 [landlords],” Sambrano said. “As soon as I tell them I’m a felon, they say, ‘Can’t do it.’ ”

“At least three other people on probation or parole have to move from Park Avenue, too.

“The phenomenon is not confined to Park Avenue or Ogden.

“In March, a Salt Lake Tribune investigation found a lack of halfway houses and treatment centers has collided with local housing laws. The result is probationers and parolees — whether they have been convicted of sex crimes, murder, theft or drug offenses — find fewer places in Utah where they can live and congregate in the same neighborhoods or buildings despite rules prohibiting them from associating with one another.

“The housing shortage is acute in Ogden, which has a disproportionately high number of felons in part because it has one of only four halfway houses in Utah. The others are in Salt Lake City.

“The offenders need to find jobs to stay in the halfway house, and those jobs can keep them in Ogden even after they leave the house.

“In 2005, Ogden began its Good Landlord program to reduce crimes and nuisances. It gives participating landlords discounts on business licenses if they conduct credit and criminal-background checks on potential tenants and disqualify anyone on probation or parole for a felony conviction….

“The Utah Department of Corrections is aware of some of the housing problems that Sambrano and other probationers and parolees have.

“As different areas adopt these policies, it unfortunately can deter offenders from turning their lives around,” Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said in a written statement. “They already have several stressors to overcome upon parole. …

“At the same time, we recognize that the city and its individual apartment complexes have an interest in securing their neighborhoods, and we will continue to support them in the important role of protecting public safety.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Government Program Has Opposite Effect

As happens sometimes, traditional service-based rehabilitation/reentry programs often actually make the problem worse, as we have posted on before.

In this case, a reentry housing program costing more money than the program it replaced, as reported by the Austin Statesman.

An excerpt.

“As Texas prison programs go, this one was tiny. Just a few hundred ex-cons would be eligible for housing vouchers those who had been approved for parole but were stuck behind bars because they had no place to live, either because their families didn't want them or they had no place to go.

“It was also supposed to save taxpayers money, since the housing would cost less than a $47-a-day prison bed.

“Instead, state records show, the 8-month-old Temporary Housing Assistance Program appears to have accomplished just the opposite. In some cases, parolees have been moved into state-rented homes from less expensive halfway houses.

“The author of the law that created the program says parolees have been moved into single-family neighborhoods, several ex-convicts have been placed together in a single house, and Texas' larger cities are getting the bulk of the renters even though those cities have halfway houses that could be used instead — all things he says he never intended.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Background Checks

An attempt to prohibit employers from conducting them is responded to by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a response we agree completely with.

An excerpt.

“Washington, DC - Attorneys at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) believe new technology that makes it easier for employers to check the criminal and credit histories of applicants is also makes it harder for blacks and Hispanics to find jobs. Members of the Project 21 black leadership network fault this position, noting that it unjustly interferes with the ability of employers to build a trusted and coherent workforce.

"Background and credit checks are legitimate hiring and recruitment tools," said Project 21 member Horace Cooper, a former visiting assistant professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law. "There is no federal law making a refusal to hire convicted felons a crime, and felon status is not a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Especially in the midst of a recession, suits like these -- which charge racial discrimination -- falsely serve to only make hiring decisions unnecessarily harder and lessen the impact of real allegations of racism."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Catholic Prison Catholic Chaplain Vacancies

Recently I became aware of this issue after reviewing material from one case, where over 100 Catholic prisoners—who have been without a Catholic Chaplain for several months—have spoken out through the prison appeal process about their need for a priest.

This is an important issue, and in relation to prison ministry, an absolutely crucial issue; as being able to conduct a viable and organized lay prison ministry in a prison that does not have a Catholic Chaplain would be virtually impossible.

Consequently, on August 10th I wrote this open letter to the major Catholic entities with a stake in prison ministry.

This is an issue we will continue to follow.

August 10, 2010

Open Letter to: Cardinal Francis George, OMI, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops & Dr. Christian Kuhn, President of the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care

RE: Catholic Prison Chaplain Vacancies

Dear Cardinal George & Dr. Kuhn:

The importance of the Catholic prison chaplain—whether providing pastoral care to those in prison, or coordinating the prison ministry of the Catholic laity—is absolutely vital.

I was a criminal—thief and robber—for 20 years and served 12 of those years in maximum security federal and state prisons. I was transformed through education, many years developing and working with criminal transformative organizations, a strong marriage, studying the social teaching—the only body of thought potent enough to trump the criminal/carceral world cultural narrative—and God’s grace from becoming Catholic.

Some cogent advice from a former prison minister, Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer:

"For many years I was involved in prison ministry…

"Ultimately, these environments, full of criminals, are also seedbeds for the works of the Evil One and therefore are in dire need of Christian ministry. The idea that a person goes to prison to become "reformed" is an absurdity. Oftentimes they become confirmed in their criminal ways.

"I would ask … anyone in prison ministry, to be of good cheer, fully confident that your work is blessed by God because it is a work that Christ explicitly asked His Church to carry out. If the "official" Church does not pay proper attention to this work of the Gospel, then those in authority will be held accountable before the Judgment Seat of God. Ours, however, is not to agonize over what others are not doing, but to do what we are supposed to do with greater fervor, asking God to sanctify us in the process." 1

The prison first enters Western consciousness through Genesis and the story of Joseph, sold by his brothers into slavery and ultimately becoming a prisoner.

"Joseph’s prison was the “Great Prison,” the hnrt wr at Thebes, present-day Luxor, whose existence is unrecorded before the period of the Middle Kingdom. [2050-1786 B.C.]" 2

Visiting those in prison is given us as a work of corporal mercy by Christ, when he teaches us: “…I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25: 36)

The prison comes from the Catholic Church:

"My own conclusion is that the prison as we know it in the West originated in the penitential practice of the early church and in primitive monastic communities. With some reservations, I argue that it thus bears a meaning as valid and necessary as penance and monasticism themselves. Perhaps a more restrained way of phrasing it would be that since the contemporary prison is in many ways a Catholic innovation, whatever hope it may have as a locus and vehicle of criminal justice lies within the history we are about to survey." 3

While I am not specifically aware of the situation regarding the availability of Catholic Chaplains in prisons internationally or nationally, the situation in California is that there are some vacancies—four according to the most recent list of September 2009—and in one case, that of the California State Prison at Solano, several Catholic prisoners (166 prisoners signed the appeal) have been without a priest since April 9, 2009 and have filed an appeal.

Given the difficulties of moving quickly in issues involving prisons—and especially during a time of great economic difficulty which the state of California is currently suffering under, with hiring freezes in effect—as well as the difficult nature of the prison chaplaincy itself, it is reasonable to expect delays filling vacancies.

However, the importance of this ministry to the Church, which alone has the power of a social teaching which can trump that of the criminal/carceral world cultural narrative shaping and driving many criminal’s allegiance to that world, cannot be stated emphatically enough.

At perhaps the most crucial points in Our Lord’s ministry on earth, his crucifixion and resurrection, penitential criminals played major roles—St. Mary of Magdalene and St. Dismas—and it is to those penitential criminal saints, in their names, and in the name of Our Lord who showed us the way, that we need to do all we can to ensure prisoners have access to a priest.

Take care.


David H. Lukenbill


1. Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, Euteneuer Replies in Letters to Editor, New Oxford Review, May 2010. Retrieved June 10, 2010 from http://www.newoxfordreview.org/letters.jsp?did=0510-letters
2. Edward M. Peters, “Prison before the prison: The ancient and medieval worlds”, In Morris, N. & Rothman, D. J. Eds., The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment in Western Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 9.
3. Andrew Skotnicki, Criminal Justice and the Catholic Church (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008), p. 6.

Cc: Sister Susan Van Baalen, North America Representative (ICCPC)
Bishop Jaime Soto, Sacramento, California-USA, Catholic Diocese
Mr. Paul E. Rogers, President, American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association
Mr. David A. Lichter, Executive Director, National Association of Catholic Chaplains

Sunday, August 15, 2010

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

The stories of the saints are stories that remind us of the depth of faith that animates the Church, and his story is such a story, so powerful in its telling.

An excerpt from Saint of the Day.

“Ordained at 24, he saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day. His mission was to combat it. He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work and suffering. He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary’s protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a “City of the Immaculata”—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers. He later founded one in Nagasaki, Japan. Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary.

“In 1939 the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed. Niepokalanow was severely bombed. Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“In 1941 he was arrested again. The Nazis’ purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders. The end came quickly, in Auschwitz three months later, after terrible beatings and humiliations.

“A prisoner had escaped. The commandant announced that 10 men would die. He relished walking along the ranks. “This one. That one.” As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line. “I would like to take that man’s place. He has a wife and children.” “Who are you?” “A priest.” No name, no mention of fame. Silence. The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine. In the “block of death” they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began in darkness. But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang. By the eve of the Assumption four were left alive. The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying. He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle. It was filled with carbolic acid. They burned his body with all the others. He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982.”

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Liberation Theology

It is a corrosive way of thinking and acting about Catholicism that infected the Church—and still resonates with many, including those in the dissenting movement Call to Action—with its ideas that politics is a path to redemption.

Pope Benedict XVI, while acknowledging its lingering impact, demolished its intellectual foundations in several documents and books, which in one, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, I just reread the section on liberation theology.

An excerpt.

“In the eighties, the theology of liberation, in its radical forms, appeared as the most urgent challenge facing the belief of the Church, demanding response and clarification. For it offered a new, plausible, and at the same time practical answer to the basic question of Christianity: the question of redemption. The word liberation was supposed to express, in another, more readily comprehensible way, what in the traditional language of the Church had been called redemption. In fact the same underlying question is always there: we experience a world that does not correspond to a just God. Poverty, oppression, unjust domination of every kind, the suffering of the righteous and of the innocent are the signs of the times—in every age. And each person is suffering; no one can say about the world, or about his own life: Stay yet awhile, you are so lovely. Liberation theology said, in response to this experience of ours: This state of affairs, which cannot be allowed to continue, can only be overcome by a radical change in the structures of the world, which are sinful structures, evil structures. If, then, sin applies its power through structures, and if our reduction to misery is preprogrammed through them, then sin cannot be overcome by individual conversion but only by a struggle against the structures of injustice. Yet this struggle, it was said, would have to be a political struggle, because the structures were strengthened and maintained by politics. Thus redemption became a political process, for which Marxist philosophy offered the essential directions. It became a task that men themselves could—indeed had to—take in hand and became, at the same time, the object of quite practical hopes: faith was changed from “theory” into practice, into concrete redeeming action in the liberation process.

“The collapse of the Marxist-inspired governments of Europe was for this theology of redeeming political practice a kind of twilight of the gods: precisely there where the Marist ideology of liberation had been consistently applied, a total lack of freedom had developed, whose horrors were now laid bare before the eyes of the entire world. Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic. The political events of 1989 have thus also changed the theological landscape. Marxism had been the most recent attempt to formulate a universally valid code for determining the correct action to be taken in history. It believed it knew the fundamental structure by which the history of the world is built up and that it was therefore able to show how this history could finally be brought onto the right track. The fact that it underpinned all this with what seemed to be strictly scientific methods, and thus completely replaced belief by science and turned knowledge into practice, made it enormously, monstrously fascinating. It seemed as though all the unfulfilled promises of religion could be realized by means of a system of political practice with a scientific basis. The collapse of this hope inevitably brought with it an immense disillusionment that is still far from having been worked through. It seems to me quite conceivable that we will meet with new forms of the Marxist view of the world. At first people were at a loss. The failure of the one system incorporating a scientifically-based solution to human problems could only favor nihilism or at any rate absolute relativism.

“Relativism—the Dominant Philosophy

“So in fact relativism has become the central problem for faith in our time…..”

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. (2004). Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. (pp. 115-117)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Capital Punishment

The Washington Post reports on death row prisoners dying of natural causes as their death sentences keep getting appealed; as too often in the discussion around capital punishment, we forget the stories of the people who have lost a family member to murder, waiting endlessly for resolution.

This post from the Crime & Punishment blog reports on an unusual gathering of those folks.

An excerpt.

“Yesterday afternoon, the Iannella Council Chambers on the fifth floor of City Hall featured a rather unique event -- a three hour session devoted to testimony from a long line of Boston residents who have suffered the loss of a family member to murder.

“The good news is that the room was packed. The crowd of people interested in what survivors of homicide had to say spilled over into the lobby where the television broadcast of the hearing was available.

“The bad news was also that the room was packed. There was, unfortunately, a seemingly endless pool of ordinary folks -- overwhelmingly people of color from the poorest sections of the city -- whose lives took an extraordinary turn for the worse when their son or daughter, cousin or other kin became a part the city’s murder statistics.

“The most important aspect of the day was the chance to associate names and stories with the otherwise impersonal homicide figures -- to humanize those who have died from senseless episodes of violence in homes, schools or on the street. The speakers, many of whom struggled to hold back their tears, were eminently successful in reminding City Counselor Ayanna Pressley who convened the hearing, several of her colleagues, and countless others in the room or watching on TV of the pain endured by families of murder victims. Much too often, their plight gets lost in the inordinate attention typically given to questions about who committed the crime and for what reason. Even worse, our society has an obsessive fascination with murderers whose undeserved celebrity only exists because someone else -- usually someone quite obscure -- was killed.

“Speaker after speaker gave heartfelt statements reflecting a blend of sorrow and frustration, sadness and anger. Not only did they describe the emptiness they felt after losing a loved one without even the chance to say goodbye, but they took advantage of the occasion to criticize certain officials who kept them in the dark about what had happened and about the state of the investigation.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Secularism Corrodes Faith

It is a fact we know intimately, and in this article from Our Sunday Visitor (subscription may be required) focusing on the faith in Latin America, the impact the secular friendly liberation theology had on the faith commitment of Catholics is very corrosive; as it continues to be in the hard pockets still clinging to its socialistic elements in the American Church.

An excerpt.

“Until the late 1990s, the fad among Catholic bishops and scholars was to focus on the “threat” posed by the growing number of evangelical “sects” in the region. Extremely influential in fueling this concern was David Stoll’s book “Is Latin America Turning Protestant? The Politics of Evangelical Growth.”

“The Stanford graduate, an evangelical, argued that evangelicalism’s spiritual appeal is that it “calls into question the claims made for its great rival, the Marxist-tinged liberation theology that was the hope of the Catholic left.” By all appearances, wrote Stoll, “born-again religion has the upper hand.”

“In his 1991 book, Stoll assembled statistical extrapolations that led him to predict that evangelicalism would be the majority religion in countries such as Guatemala, Chile and Brazil by 2000.

“Thus tremendous attention was paid to the increase of Protestantism, a phenomenon many blamed not only on the lack of sufficient priests in the region, but also on the influence of liberation theology and its highly sociological message. The late Peruvian Jesuit theologian Francisco Interdonato noted in the same year that Stoll’s book was published that “there is no doubt that a map of where liberation theology has been most successfully promoted almost perfectly overlaps with a map of evangelical growth.”

“Emerging secularism

“Stoll’s observation appears to be confirmed by a decrease of Catholics and an increase of evangelicals in Guatemala, Brazil, El Salvador, Peru and Bolivia; the countries where liberation theology had strong supporters among the clergy and religious....

"Brazil is the largest Catholic nation in the world: Some 159 million out of 189 million, according to the 2010 Catholic Almanac.

“Nevertheless, since the late 1980s, evangelical Protestantism has become the second-leading religion in Brazil. According to the 2000 census, the different evangelical denominations have grown from 9 percent to 15.1 percent in 10 years, while the number of Catholics has dropped from 83.7 to 73.7 percent.

“Since 2000, secularization has become the greatest challenge for all denominations. Recent polls show the number of self-proclaimed nonbelievers is growing at a faster pace than any other religious affiliation, especially in the wealthy and heavily populated southeast.

“Sao Paulo, for example has grown at a rate that has dramatically outpaced the construction of parishes. In the 1980s, the late Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, a strong supporter of liberation theology, chose promoting “ecclesial base communities” over building new Catholic churches, leaving Brazil’s largest and richest city devoid of parishes.

“At present, one can travel several miles in any direction in some neighborhoods before finding any Catholic parish. And because of high property values and increased construction costs in the city, there is no prospect of building any, thus turning Sao Paulo into the largest “churchless” urban area in Latin America.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sisters of Mary

The nuns who have moved to our parish—in the renovated convent—and will run the parish school, are attending the early morning mass, and it is wonderful to see them there, in their habit and devotional grace.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary of the Eucharist are a new order, attracting much attention—they were on Oprah recently—and we are truly blessed to have them so near to us.

As converts, we really appreciate the religious much more deeply when they are wearing their garments and we have reached the point where without the garments, it is as the old adage, that a person is how they dress, and without the religious garments they are not really religious.

An essay posted on earlier said it so well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Edith Stein

She became St. Benedicta of the Cross, a remarkable woman whose feast day was yesterday.

She was a Jew who converted to Catholicism and was captured and killed by the Nazi's in the gas chamber at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942.

Here is an excerpt about her life from the St Anthony Messenger.

“EDITH STEIN hardly seemed Catholic-saint material. She, a precocious Jewish child, rejected God as a teen at the turn of this century in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland). But even as a child Edith was, at heart, a radical, one who goes to the radix, the roots. When she became convinced of the truth of an idea, her life fell into place around it.

“Her youthful unruliness ended, for example, when she became intellectually convinced that her mother’s and sister’s guidance would be good for her—that at age seven. But she rejected her mother’s Jewish piety. She later rejected God because she saw little evidence that most believers, whether Jew or Christian, really believed. If there was nothing there, she wasn’t going to play the game.

“But there was something there for Edith, even as World War I unfolded and then the Nazi movement. That something led to a remarkable life of faith, cut short at age 51 by her gas-chamber murder at Auschwitz.

“This month, on October 11, the universal Church will celebrate the life and death of Edith Stein when Pope John Paul II canonizes her as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, confessor and martyr.

“Is canonizing a Jew-turned-Catholic an insult to Judaism? Some Jewish people think so. The tragedy of the Holocaust is so great that efforts to memorialize Edith Stein’s death at Auschwitz have been controversial. What did her life and death mean?

“St. Anthony Messenger interviewed three people who have been deeply involved in the life of St. Teresa Benedicta. One is the father of Teresia Benedicta McCarthy, a Boston-area child who was miraculously cured in 1987 through St. Teresa Benedicta’s intervention. That miracle, verified by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, allowed this month’s canonization.

“The second interview is with Carmelite Sister Josephine Koeppel, whose life work has been translating the writings of Edith Stein into English.

“Finally, philosopher and scholar Dr. Marianne Sawicki explains that Edith Stein’s philosophical insights offer an ongoing contribution to Western thinking. That intellectual gift might have been on Pope John Paul’s mind over the years as he has encouraged her cause.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dominus Iesus

Salvation is found only within the Catholic Church and though that has been the central truth of our Church since founded by Christ, it is a message always needing reaffirmation.

The central point of this magnificent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is in three statements:

1) “Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: “a single Catholic and apostolic Church”. Furthermore, the promises of the Lord that he would not abandon his Church (cf. Mt 16:18; 28:20) and that he would guide her by his Spirit (cf. Jn 16:13) mean, according to Catholic faith, that the unicity and the unity of the Church — like everything that belongs to the Church's integrity — will never be lacking.” (#16)

2) “Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.” (#17)

3) “Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”. This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”. (#20)

There is an excellent article about Dominus Iesus, by Peter Kreeft, in the National Catholic Register.


Dominus Iesus, published Aug. 6, 2000, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is one of the most important Church documents of modern times because it concerns what is absolutely central and primary in Christianity, Christ himself, because it defends the most unpopular aspect of the Church’s claim today — its “absolutism” — and because it overcomes the dualism of “liberal” vs. “conservative” by which the media classify and evaluate everything….

“When Dominus Iesus was issued, both groups gagged. The Fundamentalists found it too liberal and universalistic, and the Liberals found it too conservative and exclusivist. It’s not surprising that it happened to Dominus Iesus because the same thing happened to Jesus himself: Sadducees and Pharisees, Herodians and Zealots, suddenly found one thing to agree about. They had found their common enemy.

“Throughout Christian history the pattern has repeated itself. There have always been the “faith alone” fundamentalists (Tatian, Tertullian, Bernard, Luther) and the “reason trumps faith” liberals (Origen, Abelard, Spinoza, Bultmann), but also the “both-and” defenders of mainline orthodoxy (Justin Martyr, Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, Chesterton). …

Dominus Iesus not only overcomes the “liberal”/“conservative” divide but it also unites the positive in both while rejecting the negative. It is not a compromise but a “higher synthesis.” …

“The three main points of this document concern (1) Christ, (2) the Catholic Church, and (3) the Kingdom of God. The first is the longest and most important. Its central passage says that:

“God, who desires to call all people to himself in Christ … does not fail to make himself present in many ways, not only to individuals, but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression even when they contain ‘gaps, insufficiencies and errors.’ Therefore the sacred books of other religions, which in actual fact direct and nourish the existence of their followers, receive from the mystery of Christ the elements of goodness and grace which they contain.

“The salvific action of Jesus Christ, with and through his Spirit, extends beyond the visible boundaries of the Church to all humanity … for all men of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly. For since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery.” But “they acquire meaning and value only from Christ’s own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Prison Ministry

This is a vital ministry that the Lampstand Foundation is beginning to develop as an aspect of its work, which will be more fully realized with the publication of a book this winter, and a research paper in March of 2011.

Here is an article from the Jesuit Prison Ministry Blog about prison ministry and though we do not agree with the interpretation of some of the criminal justice elements mentioned, the article does represent the normative perception around prison ministry, which our work will hopefully be able to deepen and bring to a greater congruence with the reality of the criminal carceral world.

An excerpt.

“When I worked as the Catholic Chaplain at the Boston City Jail, I placed a mirror in the chapel with the inscription: “You are created in the image of God!” Genesis 1:27. This was to challenge the pervasive view in the prison (held by both the imprisoned and the public at large), that the inmates are of no worth. Everything I did in the prison as chaplain was based on my belief in the dignity of the prisoners and in Christ’s freeing power in our lives. The theme of Christ the liberator is the operating metaphor for my work. “If the chaplain sees the presence and suffering of Christ in the inmate, then that is what the inmate will likely see in him or herself. It will become the foundation of the inmate’s vision of a new self and a new life.”[1]

“Our God is a liberating God of love and mercy, and his love extends to everything and everyone he has created. Henry Covert writes, “God . . . frees humanity from the power of sin through transforming love . . . the birth of restoring grace is offered to the worst of sinners. Convicted felons can change, and this message must be communicated to society.”[2] These words are a critical and prophetic reminder to us who call ourselves Christian to respond as Christ would to the most despised and neglected members of our society.

“Our society has experienced an explosive increase in the use of incarceration over the last 20 years. One in every 100 adult Americans is behind bars. As our reliance on mass incarceration increased, the ideology of corrections shifted from rehabilitation to retribution. Along with this, and perhaps as a result of the increasing secularization of our culture, “the death of the rehabilitative ideal within the correctional community was paralleled by a loss of commitment to institutional chaplaincy programs, now being identified as only one of several components in a collection of treatment alternatives.”[3]

“In his essay, A New Model for Correctional Chaplaincy,[4] Dr. Thomas Beckner describes the changes that have already occurred within many Departments of Correction nationwide that have directly affected the way prison chaplains are employed and function. He also provides a clear challenge to chaplains today that is both disturbing and prophetic. What is most clear is that chaplaincy, as we have known it for decades is undergoing profound changes. If Christians wish to continue to be a meaningful presence and witness to the Gospel in prison, they will have to adapt to these changes or risk becoming irrelevant. Beckner identifies three key characteristics of 21st century correctional chaplaincies:

1. Chaplaincies will be privately funded
2. Ministry will be a collaborative effort
3. Chaplains will be trained specialists

“Given these contemporary characteristics of prison ministry, it is absolutely essential that we as Christian chaplains renew and recommit ourselves to the mission of Christ: to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” Mark 16:15 This good news, the saving message of Christ is that God’s love and mercy have triumphed over sin and despair. But to preach this message, we have to believe it and live it. That means we must hold to our values and not let our Chaplaincy be trivialized to a kind of self-help program in the prison system.”


[1]David C. Duncombe. The Task of Prison Chaplaincy: an Inmate’s View in The Journal of Pastoral Care, vol. 46, no. 2 l992, p. 195
[2] Henry G. Covert. Ministry to the Incarcerated. Chicago: Loyola Press, l995, p. xii.
[3] W. Thomas Beckner and Jeff Park,eds. Correctional Ministry and Chaplaincy in Effective Jail and Prison Ministry for the 21st Century. Charlotte, NC: COPE publishing, l998, p. 10.
[4] W. Thomas Beckner, JUS 200 Correctional Chaplaincy, course text. Taylor University: 2000.