Saturday, October 30, 2010

Election Blogging Break

Dear Reader:

I’ll be taking an election period break from blogging until Wednesday, November 3rd, when I hope we will all share in a great wave of common sense voting, bringing committed public leadership to serve this great nation and our beloved communities.

Take care.

David H. Lukenbill

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crime Costs

They have been calculated somewhat, as this article from Slate notes.

An excerpt.

“Crime doesn't pay, supposedly. But it does cost society something. The question is how much.

Researchers at Iowa State University recently attempted to run the numbers. They wanted to include not just the direct costs—the damaged property and lost careers and prison upkeep and lawyer fees—but also the broader and more intangible societal costs, such as more frequent police patrols, more complicated alarm systems, and more expensive life-insurance plans. If we knew how much a crime costs society, their reasoning went, maybe we could better decide how much money to spend trying to stop it.

“They found that each burglary in the United States—a car break-in, for example—costs $41,288. For armed robberies the cost increases eightfold, to $335,733. Every aggravated assault costs $145,379. Each rape costs $448,532.

“Then there is murder. The researchers, led by sociologist Matt DeLisi, put the price tag at a whopping $17,252,656. That means in 2009, according to the FBI, murder cost the United States almost $263 billion—nearly as much the federal government annually spends on Medicaid.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reforming the Church

The difficulty in reforming a part of the Church, such as the Legionaries of Christ, even after abundant evidence of the evil actions—over a lifetime—of its founder, as reported by Chiesa, is testament to how difficult it is to effect change within the larger Church in the world.

It reminds us that it is not the people—save Peter and the saints—of the Church that need inform our living of our faith, but the teachings, the dogma; and here, we are to consult scripture, the Church Fathers, and the universal Catechisms of the Church from the Council of Trent and Vatican II, first and second editions.

An excerpt from Chiesa.

“ROME, October 25, 2010 – Now that he has been made a cardinal, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis will have even more authority in implementing the mandate he has received from Benedict XVI to salvage the Legionaries of Christ, brought to the brink of ruin by their founder, Marcial Maciel, and by the men of his inner circle.

“But the difficulties that the pontifical delegate is encountering are significant. The superiors of the congregation, the most powerful of which is vicar general Luís Garza Medina (in the photo), are by no means giving up on the idea of remaining in their positions of command, now and always.

“In mid-September, De Paolis asked Garza to give up the main offices that he holds, at least those of territorial director for Italy, supervisor of consecrated virgins of the movement Regnum Christi, general prefect of studies and head of the financial holding company Integer. But Garza said no. A chill has fallen between the two.

“De Paolis has been in office since June 16, but has only been able to operate and decide fully since this October, when he was finally given the four "advisers" that the Vatican authorities had promised him four months earlier. One of them, Brian Farrel, is a Legionary with an important role in the Vatican curia, a proponent of a decisive shift in the direction of the congregation. Two others, the Jesuit Gianfranco Ghirlanda and Sacred Heart Fr. Agostino Montan, are highly experienced canon lawyers, even more in favor of decisive action for reform. The one most inclined to negotiate with the heads of the Legionaries appears to be the fourth, Mario Marchesi, previously a professor at their university.

“Last October 19, De Paolis addressed to the Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi a long and well-constructed letter, reproduced in its entirety further below, which gives fairly clear indications of the process of "rebuilding" and "renewal" that the pontifical delegate intends to undertake. And of the obstacles that he is encountering.

“De Paolis describes his project as "change in continuity," with the accent on the first word. The changes – he writes – include "not a few things." They concern freedom of conscience, the role of confessors and spiritual directors, the forms of control over everyday life, and more. But the point on which he is insisting most is "the problem of the exercise of authority within the Legion," including the way in which the superiors relate with each other.

“De Paolis dedicates numerous passages and one entire paragraph of the letter to the need for superiors to change the way in which they act. For the first time in an official Church document, he states in black and white the thesis according to which "the current superiors could not have been unaware of the offenses of the founder," and so "by remaining silent about them, they would have been lying." He does not endorse this thesis, but he also does not rule it out. In conjecturing that their knowledge of the outrages of the founder would have come about "late and gradually," he does not say how or when. And in effect it is now common opinion, even among the Vatican authorities, that Garza and the other ultra-faithful of Maciel knew of and covered up his double life as early as the early 1990's, long before his denunciation in 2006 and his death in 2008.

“But in spite of this, it could be gathered from the letter from De Paolis that for now neither he nor the Vatican authorities intend to remove the superiors of the Legion by executive fiat. They are instead trying to get them to leave their positions of their own will, or at least immediately change their attitude, because – as stated in the letter – "if we get caught up in the desire to prevail, and to impose our own ideas on the others, disaster is certain."

“The fact remains that, so far, no trace of this desired conversion has been seen in the leaders. By closing ranks, they are withholding visibility and initiative from the healthy part of the Legion, those dozens, hundreds of priests and novices who yearn for a renewal of their religious life, but continue to suffer highly suffocating restrictions and pressures, on the individual and collective level.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crime Costs

Understanding the costs involved in all aspects of decision-making in the criminal justice system benefits everyone, and it appears, as this article in Governing reports, that evaluating government criminal justice programs is becoming more common, which is very good news.

An excerpt.

“How much does it cost?

“It is a question we have asked hundreds of times since we were old enough to visit the candy store with a few coins in our pockets. In a market economy, each of us makes hundreds of decisions about what to eat, drive and wear, and our choices are guided in large part by prices.

“Governments often operate in the dark when it comes to cost, particularly in the realm of criminal justice.

“A recent article in The New York Times notes that Missouri judges will now be informed of the costs associated with the sentences they issue. According to the article:

“A second-degree robber, a judge could be told, would carry a price tag of less than $9,000 for five years of intensive probation, but more than $50,000 for a comparable prison sentence and parole afterward. The bill for a murderer's 30-year prison term: $504,690.

“Prosecutors worry that judges will now tend to hand out more lenient, less costly sentences. But others claim that this information will only help judges make smarter choices in a world of limited resources.

“In California, for example, budget woes have prompted the early release of prisoners. The New York Times noted that "The goal is to reduce the number of inmates in the state's 33 prisons next year by 6,500 -- more than the entire state prison population in 2009 of Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah or West Virginia." It costs California about $47,000 on average to house a prisoner for a year, and currently the Golden State spends more on incarceration than higher education. Given the state's budget crisis, these costs are coming under scrutiny, and the state is moving to release the least dangerous prisoners early to cut costs and relieve overcrowding.

“There are some who argue that you shouldn't put a price tag on "justice." But imagine grocery shopping in a store without any prices. Guided only by desires, the cart might get filled with filet mignon and caviar, not to mention those yummy whoopee pies from the bakery.

“But in a world of limited resources -- that is, the real world -- every expenditure represents a tradeoff. More of this means less of that. How can anyone make good decisions without cost information?

“Yet when it comes to cost, government often operates in the dark. How much does it "cost" to borrow a library book? At your local "free" public library there is no price, but there is a cost. Just like there is a price but no cost for a visit from police, a criminal trial or a year spent in jail.

“Government can't and shouldn't attempt to charge for its services -- you don't want to have to enter your credit card number for the fire department when your house is on fire. But understanding costs can lead to better decision-making.

“Texas is hardly a state known for coddling criminals, or for lavish public spending. But when the Texas Sunset Commission looked at the operations of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, it recommended "significant additional funds to TDCJ for offender treatment and rehabilitation programs proven to reduce recidivism." Why? Because a dollars and sense case was made that it was worthwhile to invest in rehabilitation and education for inmates to avoid the costs of future visits to the pokey. The Sunset Commission noted that legislators lacked good data on what programs did and didn't work, and how much various approaches cost. Recidivism, it turns out, is a huge cost driver. But without insight into the relative costs and effectiveness of rehabilitation programs, lawmakers were operating in the dark.

“They say that justice should be blind. When it comes to guilt or innocence, that is certainly true. But when it comes to putting scarce resources to use to maximize public value, we need to better understand costs and trade-offs.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gangs & the Church

What is sad about this story from California Catholic Daily News, is that these gangs have been actively involved in the street/prison culture since the 1950’s and their culture is generations deep and so woven into the fabric of the enabling worldly culture, that virtually all attempts to combat their influence—by those with the very best intentions but sadly lacking in deep knowledge of why the gangs have formed and how they really live—have (based on rigorous evaluations) failed.

Criminal transformation can only come from within the soul of a penitential criminal; either by his efforts or with the guidance of a reformed criminal whose leadership will be accepted by the penitential criminal.

What is truly heartening however, is that this effort is coming from the Catholic Church, the only institution possessing the fullness of truth potent enough to trump the narrative of the criminal world.

An excerpt.

“Oakland, Oct 16, 2010 (CNA) -- Captain Paul Figueroa opened a September gang awareness workshop at his alma mater, Oakland’s St. Elizabeth Elementary School, noting that as a student at the parish’s neighboring high school, he couldn’t wear the school’s red color because he didn’t want to be confused with the Norteño gang that controlled his neighborhood.

“Now wearing the dark blue of the Oakland Police Department, Figueroa helped bring about the first of several planned workshops in the diocese to teach parents, educators, clergy and staff how to recognize gang involvement and intervene.

“About 70 teachers and staff from St. Anthony, St. Elizabeth, St. Bernard and St. Louis Bertrand parishes attended, learning about the symbols, colors and mentality associated with the city’s largest Hispanic gangs.

“We’re really going to be aggressive about trying to give you the information so when you see it firsthand, you can try to reach out and stop it, right from jump street,” Figueroa said.

“Bishop Salvatore Cordileone requested the training, which will eventually extend to parents and children in the parishes, said Father Jesus Nieto-Ruiz, pastor of St. Anthony Parish. Father Nieto-“Ruiz is leading the training efforts for his largely-Latino deanery.

“The idea is to get parents training on the gang culture and see if there is a way to intervene and prevent more teens from joining gangs,” said Father Nieto-Ruiz, noting that Latino gang members’ families are generally Catholic.

“Gang culture hit close to home as Officer Doug Keely showed a clip from “Gang Wars: Oakland,” a television documentary that followed Keely and other members of OPD’s eight-man gang unit through familiar Oakland streets, as well as violent members of Oakland’s primary Hispanic gangs: the Norteños, Sureños and Border Brothers.

“Keely indicated that the gangs mostly operate in East Oakland and parts of West Oakland.

“The Norteños’ color is red, and members are the “foot soldiers” of the prison gang La Nuestra Familia, Keely explained.

“The Sureños wear blue and are affiliated with the Mexican Mafia prison gang. The Border Brothers wear black, he said.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vatican Speaks Clearly

Regarding the issue of Catholic politicians promoting abortion, the Vatican has again spoken definitively, as reported by the California Catholic Daily.

An excerpt.

“ROME ( – Speaking at the Human Life International World Prayer Congress on Saturday, Oct. 9, Archbishop Raymond Burke received sustained applause when he noted that Catholic politicians who support abortion are required to repent publicly.

“Speaking to pro-life leaders from 45 nations, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (the highest Vatican court) also noted that those who recognize the scandal caused by such public, dissident Catholics assist the Church in repairing a serious breach, but are nevertheless often ridiculed for it.

“Archbishop Burke stressed that “both bishops and the faithful” must be obedient to the Magisterium – which he described as the teaching of Christ as handed down through the successor of Peter and the bishops in union with him. “When the shepherds of the flock are obedient to the Magisterium, entrusted to their exercise, then surely the members of the flock grow in obedience and proceed with Christ along the way of salvation,” he said. “If the shepherd is not obedient the flock easily gives way to confusion and error.”

“Burke, who is also a member of the Congregation for Bishops added: “A most tragic example of the lack of obedience of faith, also on the part of certain Bishops, was the response of many to the Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI, published on July 25, 1968. The confusion which resulted has led many Catholics into habits of sin in what pertains to the procreation and education of human life.”

“Humanae Vitae reiterated age-old Christian teaching on the immorality of the use of artificial contraception. However, after its publication the encyclical was repudiated by many within the Catholic Church, including priests and bishops, who had believed that the Church would change its views on contraception.

“Turning to the issue of scandal within the Church, the archbishop said, “We find self-professed Catholics, for example, who sustain and support the right of a woman to procure the death of the infant in her womb, or the right of two persons of the same sex to the recognition which the State gives to a man and a woman who have entered into marriage. It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself publicly in this manner.”

“To resounding applause Burke said, “When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public.”

Read full talk here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hope & Change

Certain times seem to generate optimism, others pessimism, and for many observers of the public arena, this is one of those very optimistic times, as we wait for the results of the elections across the country that will surely usher in a new sense of public policy making.

With all of the hitches in the formerly ascendant narrative putting some halt to its once remorseless advance; the stiller, smaller, voices of the people have been raised in a dynamic chorus of hoping for change, and it does appear that change will occur, at least in public leadership.

Whether the change in public leadership—assuming it does happen—will actually lead to a change in public policy, remains to be seen, as many who enter the halls of power from main street often become so self-enamored by their very ascension, that they forget how and on whose shoulders they arose, but I am optimistic it will happen and they will not forget.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Prison Drug Programs

An article from the Chicago Sun Times advocates a drug program in every prison, but if we examine the rigorous evaluation of a large-scale effort (over 1$ billion) in California recently, which not only failed miserably but actually made the problem worse, maybe that is not such a good idea.

An excerpt from the press release of the California program.

“In a 60-page special review released Wednesday, the Office of the Inspector General reported that numerous university studies of the state’s in-prison substance abuse programs conducted over the past nine years consistently show no difference in recidivism rates between inmates who participated in the programs and those who received no substance abuse treatment. One five-year University of California, Los Angeles, study of the state’s two largest in-prison programs found, in fact, that the 12-month recidivism rates for inmates who received in-prison treatment was slightly higher than that of a control group." Office of the Inspector General, Sacramento, California, February 21, 2007 Press Release “The states substance abuse treatment program for inmates do not reduce recidivism, yet cost the state $143 million per year”, pp. 1-2 italicized in original)

An excerpt from the Chicago Sun Times article.

“Two million, three hundred thousand Americans are in prison today -- No. 1 in the world. That's up from just 500,000 in 1980.

“Imprisonment is one of the most expensive items of state and local budgets. The cost of incarceration in the U.S. is estimated at more than $60 billion a year.

“Most of this increase is due to the prosecution of drug abusers that started in the '80s. Drugs were rampant during that time, with 14 percent of Americans abusing illegal drugs monthly in 1980. That number is now down to 8 percent, but a whopping 68 percent of people arrested test positive for illegal drugs, according to Justice Department surveys of 30 cities.

“The nexus of drugs and crime is simply undeniable.

“There is a solution other than putting drug abusers behind bars -- drug treatment. Though 68 percent of arrestees test positive for drugs, only 14 percent of prisoners receive treatment.

“Birmingham, Ala., was able to call a halt on building a new prison 15 years ago when the city instituted an arrestees' drug treatment program. And the Sheridan Correctional Center, a medium security facility 70 miles west of Chicago that houses male offenders, found that prisoners who completed treatment after release were 40 percent less likely to be arrested a year later and 85 percent less likely to return to prison; counseling, job training and supervision were critical to this success.

“But when we asked the warden's office at the famous Attica prison in New York if they had a drug treatment program, the staff told us, "We're not a drug prison."

“In fact, every prison needs to be a "drug" prison that provides treatment. Only then will we end the overcrowding and recidivism.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Second Chance Funding

$110 million funded for reentry and crime reduction programs, as announced by the Department of Justice on October 8, 2010.

Unfortunately, virtually all of these programs will be built on a service-based model rather than one of internal change; a model which has met with sustained failure over several decades, as our post on rehabilitation evaluation reveals.

An excerpt from the DOJ News Release.

“WASHINGTON, D.C. – Speaking at the European Offenders Employment Forum today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced $110 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 funding for the Second Chance Act reentry grants and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. These two efforts focus on reducing recidivism rates and state and local spending on corrections through the use of evidence-based, smart-on-crime approaches implemented by state, local, tribal and non-profit partners. The department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is administering the grants, research, and training and technical assistance.

“Today’s Department of Justice is dedicated to being smart, not only tough, on crime – and our reentry efforts are no exception,” said Attorney General Holder. “It’s vital that we help ensure that people who want to improve our society, as well as their own circumstances, have opportunities to grow, to learn, and to contribute. By joining together, I believe that we can realize our shared vision of safe, thriving communities.”

“According to OJP’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States. Ninety-five percent of all people incarcerated today will eventually be released and will return to their communities. The conference, Oct. 7-8 in Washington, D.C., was convened by the National Transitional Jobs Network and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion to discuss promising practices, policies, and strategies for prisoner reentry.

“We have a responsibility to partner with communities to keep the public safe and to ensure ex-offenders are fully equipped to become productive, law-abiding citizens, ” said Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for OJP, who also spoke at the conference. “This includes supporting community-based programs that are successful, and backed by evidence of effectiveness.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Catechism

The Holy Father has created a new Pontifical Council, as this Vatican news release notes, where the Catechism is a major tool, which is very good news as it is one of the best tools of the Church.

An excerpt.

“VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the newly-founded Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, explained the contents of "Ubicumque et semper", the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" by which Benedict XVI establishes the new dicastery.

"The theme of new evangelisation has been the subject of deep reflection by Church Magisterium over recent decades", said Archbishop Fisichella. "It is immediately clear that this goal represents a challenge to the entire Church, which must ... find adequate ways to renew her announcement to many baptised people who no longer understand what it means to belong to the Christian community, and are victims of the subjectivism of our times with its closure in an individualism that often lacks public and social responsibility. The 'Motu Proprio' directly identifies those Churches of ancient tradition which ... require a renewed missionary spirit, one capable of helping them make a forward leap to meet the new requirements which the current historical situation imposes".

"As 'Ubicumque et semper' makes clear, new evangelisation is not a mere formula, identical in all circumstances", the archbishop explained. "Rather, it obliges us to develop well-founded ideas capable of acting as support to a corresponding pastoral activity. Moreover it must be capable of carefully verifying the various traditions and goals that the Churches possess by virtue of the treasure of their centuries-long history: a plurality of forms that does not undermine unity".

“Nor must new evangelisation sound like "an abstract formula", the president of the new dicastery continued his remarks. "We must", he said, "fill it with theological and pastoral content, and we will do so with the strong support of the Magisterium of recent decades", also bearing in mind "the many initiatives which, over the course of recent years, have been enacted by individual bishops in their particular Churches, episcopal conferences and groups of believers".

“Among the tasks entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation is that of promoting the use of the Catechism of the Universal Church. "The Catechism is indeed", the prelate noted, "one of the most mature fruits to emerge from the directives of Vatican Council II. It is an organic compilation of the entire heritage of the development of dogma and is the most complete instrument to transmit the unchanging faith in the face of the constant changes and questions the world poses to believers".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hiring Criminals

There are few stories about businesses that look forward to hiring former criminals, but the ones that emerge, as this one from BNET, are truly wonderful testaments to the power of individual belief in second chances, forgiveness, and redemption.

An excerpt.

“When I took over Electronic Recyclers International in late 2004, it was a failing company. I decided to restructure and rebrand it. And when it came time to hire new employees, I saw an opportunity to hire individuals from what have typically been marginalized segments of society: former convicts, former gang members, the homeless, people recovering from drug addiction, and people coming off of welfare.

“It wasn’t the first time I’d hired employees looking for a second chance. Back in 1993, I co-founded Homeboy Tortillas and Homeboy Industries — two small businesses that train and employ former gang members, helping them transition into the workforce. It was a landmark moment in my life, and from then on, I wanted to make sure any business I took part in had a bottom line for profit and for social responsibility. I felt strongly about continuing that mission at the recycling company, which safely dismantles and recycles electronic waste.

“Everyone at our company buys into that mission. We posted a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve” — over the front door in all of our regional offices. We all agreed that we need to make money, but also that we can seek to turn people’s lives around by opening our doors and our hearts to those in need.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Capital Punishment Poll

A recent poll asked the question about capital punishment support in a nuanced enough way so as to elicit precise answers, and the results are revealing, very revealing; as reported by the Crime & Consequences Blog.

An excerpt.

“Quinnipiac has this interesting poll on the death penalty. The survey was taken in Connecticut, but the numbers run pretty close to the national average. In particular, we see the result of phrasing the question in different ways:

“The standard way Gallup has been asking since the 30s:
"Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?" 65-23-12

“This is problematic because it implies the respondent must choose a single punishment for all murderers.

“The opponents' favorite phrasing, which makes the problem noted above even worse:
"Which punishment do you prefer for people convicted of murder, the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole?" 46-41-14

“As strong a proponent of capital punishment as I am, I would answer that question LWOP myself if I were really constrained to a single choice for all murders. Most polls with this phrasing report that a substantial portion of respondents break out of the choices offered and volunteer "it depends" or something like that. No such breakout is reported here. That could be a difference in the way the surveyor follows up if the respondent breaks out of the choices offered. Some polls will simply record the volunteered answer, while others will press for a choice among those given.

“And finally, the real question that is actually under discussion:
"Which statement comes closest to your point of view? (A) All persons convicted of murder should get the death penalty, (B) No one convicted of murder should get the death penalty, or (C) Whether or not someone convicted of murder gets the death penalty should depend on the circumstances of the case." 7-14-78-1

“Bravo for Quinnipiac! When a pollster finally asks the real question, 78% of the people favor the basic approach of current law. Another 7% favor making it far more severe than it presently is or has been at any time in modern history, for a total of 85% in favor overall.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cafeterianism in Religion and Politics

As it bedevils the Church, so it bedevils America—the uncertainty and confusion that has been part of the world since the beginning—as this article from The American Spectator notes; and though the conflation of God’s teaching with America’s founding principles is a stretch, the metaphor is still instructive.

An excerpt.

“Those of us who are faithful Catholics have the misfortune of coexisting with those of our brethren who are not in communion with all the teachings of the Church. Some of these folks attend Mass each week, while most haven't seen the inside of a church in years, yet feel compelled to identify themselves as Catholics; one would suppose, for the sole purpose of being interviewed by the New York Times.

“I will not rehash the grievances of these Catholics-In-Name-Only, but suffice to say that they involve the Church's failure to have evolved sufficiently enough to approve of the current proclivities toward the sins they wish to commit. They would seek to contravene the immutable truths of our Founder who said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." They favor modern mores over timeless truths.

“In much the same way, America is now experiencing this inclination of a large number of citizens to disregard the founding principles that underpin our nation in favor of their own ideas of what our government is and should do; all the while insisting that they support and defend our Constitution. It is at times like these that non-Catholics share with us our frustration when reading the opinions of our brethren who pick and choose which, if any, precepts of the Faith they might respect.

“And the most perplexing aspect of all this is that these liberals who constantly trumpet diversity have a chilling disdain for the fact that both the Church and the U.S. are truly melting pots open to all men and women on Earth -- who are willing to obey the rules.

“And so must we deal with those who lay claim to an America that in many ways would be unrecognizable to those who crafted the greatest founding document in the history of world governance. The scandal of their perversion of that document is surpassed only by their phony allegiance to it when convenient.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crime Cost Calculator

RAND has come up with a pretty nifty way to calculate crime costs in relation to the number of police officers.

An excerpt.

“Existing high-quality research on the costs of crime and the effectiveness of police demonstrates that public investment in police can generate substantial social returns. A Center on Quality Policing study, Hidden in Plain Sight: What Cost-of-Crime Research Can Tell Us About Investing in Police, shows how this research can be used to better understand the returns on investments in police.

“The following example is based on the size of the Los Angeles Police Department. See the April 14, 2010 LA City Council hearing on police force reductions. The LA City Council rejected a recommendation to freeze hiring, choosing to maintain staffing at 9,963 officers this fiscal year. You can edit the numbers for your community.
• To see how an increase or decrease in police personnel will affect crime costs, enter a number of officers in Change in Number of Police Personnel. The default example shows that reducing the size of the department by 90 officers would increase crime costs by over $32 million. You can also edit the Size of Department.
• You can edit the Cost per Crime and Crimes per Year columns to calculate the value of police in other cities. See the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for data on reported crimes in other cities.
• The Dollar Year Adjustment is based on inflation. To adjust the cost of crime figures from 2007 dollars to other years besides 2010, use this inflation calculator.”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Criminals Become Entrepreneurs

Though it seems counter-intuitive to many, but completely aligned with the principles of the Lampstand Foundation, this is the centerpiece of the rehabilitative approach used by several other organizations—profiled by the Cleveland Plain Dealer—and by being congruent with the operating mantra of many professional criminals, will work, as this article in the Plain Dealer notes.

An excerpt.

“CLEVELAND, Ohio -- For nearly 10 years, Augustus Turner had a lot of time to ponder an American dream that he refused to believe was out of reach because of a big mistake and a permanent label.

“Turner was a prison inmate, hoping to run his own business after serving time for drug trafficking.

“He knew the odds weren't good. Although 97 percent of prisoners are eventually released, only 53 percent find work, and a far smaller share start their own businesses.

"What I learned from the streets is how to hustle," said Turner, 39. "You can dream. You can pray. It all starts there. But you have to actively make it happen."

“And he did. Today, Turner operates Masterpieces, a 10-year-old art studio, tattoo shop and silk-screening business on the West Side of Cleveland.

“Turner made his dream happen through sheer perseverance, but a growing movement across the country is trying to train released convicts to achieve success as entrepreneurs.

“Northeast Ohio might be lagging behind the trend. A few people here are trying to make a difference, but no coordinated effort has emerged to help parolees stay out of prison by starting businesses.

“More than 700,000 people will be released from the nation's state or federal prisons this year. About two-thirds will wind up back behind bars within two or three years.

“Government, private-sector officials and academics seem to agree that a job helps keep an ex-prisoner from returning to the penitentiary. And nobody disputes the challenges of becoming employed.

“For instance, studies in Milwaukee and New York found that a criminal record reduces employment opportunities by 50 percent for white people and 64 percent for black people -- at a time when jobs are already scarce.

"More than 60 percent of employers surveyed in the 2002 Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality (MCSUI) reported that they would "probably not" or "definitely not" hire applicants with criminal history records.

“The answer might be entrepreneurship, according to a 2007 national report from the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Venturing Beyond the Gates" is considered the most extensive recent study on successful re-entry to society through entrepreneurship.

“Only a handful of entrepreneur-loan programs exist for ex-prisoners. And communication is virtually nonexistent among them, according to the study.

“The most notable and biggest prison entrepreneurship program is in Texas, with offices in Houston and Dallas. Former Wall Street investor Catherine Rohr founded the program in 2004 after she toured a prison and decided that executives and inmates had more in common than most would think. Both know how to manage others, and even the most unsophisticated drug dealers understand business concepts like competition, profitability and proprietary sales channels, said David Joekel, executive relations manager at the prison program.

“Hardened criminals including murderers, thieves, drug dealers and gang leaders from more than 60 jails in Texas are invited to apply each year. Those selected are transferred to one correctional facility, where they learn entrepreneurial skills as well as strategies for finding a job. With private funding, MBA students as mentors, a highly selective admissions process and stringent pre- and post-release programs, ex-prisoners have started about 60 businesses in the program's six years.

“So far, 600 inmates have graduated. In the last two years, 98 percent of the graduates have found decent jobs within three months of release, with an average starting salary of $10.75 an hour. The program continues to gain momentum and interest from volunteers including business, government leaders and dozens of MBA programs, because of a return-to-prison rate of less than 10 percent for the graduates.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

England, Catholics & History

The history of the Catholic Church in England, removed from its primacy of place because of the lust of one of their previous monarchs, is continuing to unwind before us through the recent visit by the Holy Father, examined in this article from The American Interest.

An excerpt.

“On September 22 The New York Times reported in some detail on the visit to Britain by Pope Benedict XVI. The high point of the visit was Benedict praying side by side at Westminster Abbey with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This was indeed an expression of ecumenical amity. Less amicable was Benedict’s proclamation, on the same visit, of the beatification (one step away from sanctification) of John Henry Newman, the most famous Anglican to return to the bosom of Rome. Also less amicable was the wonderfully understated observation Rowan Williams felt constrained to make, to the effect that there are some differences of opinion concerning the status of the bishop of Rome. But the tensions which surfaced here came from an earlier action by Benedict which (quite accurately, I think) has been seen as an attempt to fish in troubled waters. This was the offer by the Vatican to set up an Anglican rite within the Roman Catholic Church for priests leaving the Church of England because of gay bishops and other objectionable innovations. Such priests would be allowed to keep their wives and some parts of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Rome interpreted this move as coming out of pastoral concern for priests left ecclesiastically homeless. Needless to say, the view from Canterbury is rather different.

“At first glance the arrangement proposed by the Vatican for fugitive Anglican priests seems to be very similar to the long-standing institution of Eastern rites for Orthodox church bodies (so-called Uniat churches), whose priests are allowed to be married and to keep using the rituals of traditional Orthodoxy. But there are also important differences. Eastern rites are accorded to entire Orthodox church bodies, while the envisaged Anglican rites are offered to individuals. A rough analogy would be if amnesty were granted to an entire Mafia family, as against individuals deserting the family. More importantly, the ordination of Orthodox priests is considered valid by Rome; Anglican ordination is not. Another rough analogy: A doctor moving from New York to Boston would not have to renew his credentials as a practitioner of medicine; a doctor moving from Russia would. Thus, as far as I understand the esoterica of Roman canon law, the beneficiaries of the new Anglican rite would have to be re-ordained.

“The issue is not new, though it emerges now in a new context. The Anglo-Catholic movement, which arose in England in the nineteenth century, emphasized the Catholic roots of Anglicanism. It added incense and other liturgical extravagances to the ritual, and it re-established monastic institutions. Most Anglo-Catholics have remained in the Church of England and its overseas sister churches (such as the Episcopal Church in the United States), becoming one of three versions of Anglicanism—the Anglo-Catholic “high church” (also known as “high and crazy”), the deliberately Protestant “low church” (“low and lazy”), and the biggest in-between “broad church” (“broad and hazy”). It could be argued that the last most clearly expresses the mellow genius of Anglicanism. As an agnostic but nominally Episcopalian friend of mine said, when I looked surprised that he kneeled at a wedding we attended: “I don’t know whether I believe in God. But I know that I believe in the Church of England.”

“But some adherents of the Anglo-Catholic movement were not satisfied by being accommodated in this big tent. John Henry Newman was not the only one to “go swimming in the Tiber” (a few became Orthodox, “swimming in the Bosphorus”). The ambition by Anglo-Catholics to be recognized by Rome (regardless of whether they themselves ended up there) induced Pope Leo XIII in 1896 to issue the bull Apostolicae Curae, which declared Anglican ordinations to be “absolutely null and utterly void” (Rome at her most august does not mince words). Curiously, the reason given for this position was not that the Church of England had ceased to stand in “apostolic succession” after Henry VIII severed it from Rome in his noble project of legitimizing his occupancy of Anne Boleyn’s bed. “Apostolic succession” refers to the claim that the Apostles established a line of bishops continuing uninterrupted through the centuries—a claim as dubious historically as the claim that Jesus established the papacy. It is doubly dubious in the case of the Church of England. Who was left after Henry VIII executed bishops who refused to acknowledge him as head of that church, after Queen Mary executed those who had, and Queen Elizabeth I did away with those who wanted to stick with Mary’s project to return to the church’s allegiance to Rome? I suppose that diligent historians could find a couple of bishops who survived these massacres—probably masters of the art of accommodation.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

St. Callistus & Crime Down

1) Today is the feast day of St. Callistus, the criminal who became a pope, see the earlier post.

2) In what continues to be a validation of Compstat policing and three strikes sentencing, crime continues to drop, and that is very good news, as reported in this Press Release from the Department of Justice.

An excerpt.

“WASHINGTON – The violent crime rate declined from 19.3 to 17.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons during 2009, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, announced today. This decline continued a longer-run decline from 51.2 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 1994 and brought violent crime rates to their lowest levels since 1973, the first year that BJS collected data from crime victims through its National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS).

“The property crime rate declined during 2009 from 134.7 to 127.4 crimes per 1,000 households, primarily as a result of a decrease in theft. This decline continued a longer-term trend of declining rates from 553.6 crimes per 1,000 households in 1975.

“In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes (rapes or sexual assaults, robberies, aggravated assaults and simple assaults) occurred, as well as an estimated 15.6 million property crimes (burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and household thefts) and 133,000 personal thefts (picked pockets and snatched purses).
These offenses included both crimes reported and unreported to police.

“Violent and property crime rates in 2009 remain at the lowest levels recorded since 1973, the first year that such data were collected. The rate of every major violent and property crime measured by BJS fell between 2000 and 2009. The overall violent crime rate fell 39 percent and the property crime rate declined by 29 percent during the last 10 years.

“Between 2000 and 2009, the rate of firearm violence declined from 2.4 incidents per 1,000 persons age 12 or older to 1.4 per 1,000 persons. Offenders used firearms in 8 percent of all violent crimes in 2009.

“In 2009, men were slightly more likely than women to be victims of violent crime. Women were more likely than men to be victimized by someone they knew. Seventy percent of all violent crimes against women were committed by a known offender (an intimate, family member or friend/acquaintance), compared to 45 percent of violence against men. Twenty-six percent of the non-fatal violence against women was committed by an intimate (current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend), compared to 5 percent of the violence against men.

“Nearly half of all violent crimes and about 40 percent of all property crimes were reported to police in 2009. Of the violent crimes, robbery (68 percent) and aggravated assault (58 percent) were most reported. Fifty-five percent of rape/sexual assaults and 42 percent of simple assaults were reported to the police. A higher percentage of motor vehicle thefts (85 percent) than burglaries (57 percent) and thefts (32 percent) were reported to police.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Capital Punishment

As Catholics continue to debate it, executions also continue; and while the discussion is always worthwhile, the position of the Catholic Church is clear—though often seen through a clouded lens—as our book, Capital Punishment and Catholic Social Teaching: A Tradition of Support, examines.

This recent article about capital punishment, from The American Interest, examines its current status—from a racial perspective— in America.

An excerpt.

“The death penalty is back in the news. In the past month alone, Virginia has executed a woman for her role in the murder-for-hire of her husband and stepson, despite claims that she was nearly mentally retarded. States have grappled with a looming shortage of lethal-injection drugs. A Federal court in Georgia has rebuffed a death-row inmate’s claim that he is an innocent man, falsely convicted—but defense lawyers insist the judge got it wrong. And in North Carolina, the vast majority of that state’s 156 death-row inmates have filed appeals based on a new law that permits them to challenge their sentences on grounds of racial bias.

“For opponents of the death penalty, these and other events add up to more evidence that capital punishment in the United States is, in the words of one prominent study, “a broken system.” Of course, even a smoothly functioning death penalty would, in their view, violate basic human decency and basic human rights. Their emphasis on capital punishment’s operational flaws is a concession to political reality. According to the Gallup Organization, 65 percent of Americans favor the use of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder. Half of Americans say the death penalty is not imposed often enough; only 20 percent say it is imposed too often. So opponents’ best hope is to encourage doubts about the way it is implemented – an approach that offers the public a way to be against the death penalty, as it exists in the United States today, without necessarily ruling it out in principle.

“Racial bias ranks high on the list of accusations. There’s a good reason for this: racial disparities in capital sentencing are an historical reality—and a particularly ugly one at that. Anyone who doubts the death penalty’s past connection with racism need only consider this statistic: Between 1930 and 1967 (at which point executions stopped pending a decade-long Supreme Court overhaul of the death penalty), 54 percent of the 3,859 people put to death under civilian authority in the U.S. were African American. This was not only out of proportion with the black share of the total population but also out of proportion with the percentage of serious crimes committed by blacks. Given that history, lingering racism is an undeniable risk factor looming over today’s system.

“The question, however, is whether that risk is actually as large and as ineradicable as conventional wisdom maintains. And the answer is: probably not. In fact, much of the statistical evidence cited by death-penalty critics to show that blacks and whites fare differently in capital cases does not necessarily prove racism at all. To the contrary, it could well reflect racial progress.

“In the past, the disproportionate impact of capital punishment against blacks reflected racism all across the country, but especially in the Southern states, which used execution to enforce a broader caste system. The South put blacks to death for rape far more often than whites—especially when the alleged victim was a white woman. Of the 455 men executed for rape in the United States between 1930 and 1967, 90 percent were African American.

“These appalling facts formed the background for the Supreme Court’s consideration of the death penalty in the 1960s and 1970s. It was no accident that the Legal Defense Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, known as the LDF, led the constitutional challenges. The litigation culminated in a 1972 case, Furman v. Georgia, in which the Supreme Court struck down all existing state death-penalty laws. Two of the three cases grouped under that title involved African American men sentenced to death for raping white women in the South. The third was a black man convicted of killing a white man in the course of a bungled burglary.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gregorian Chant, the Church’s Music

Occasionally, we attend a local parish that offers Latin Mass, and being present at the High Mass, with Gregorian Chant playing a central role, is a powerful experience.

The parish I attend regularly is blessed with priests who chant the closing of the Eucharistic Prayer, which brings some of the ancient way into the New Mass.

This article from the Ignatius Press Blog addresses liturgical music and the centrality of Gregorian Chant.

An excerpt.

“From a ZENIT article about liturgical music, focusing on remarks made by Fr. Uwe Michael Lang (apparently found in full, in Italian, in this piece from the L'Osservatore Romano on October 6th):

“Sacred music cannot be limited to Gregorian chant, but it is chant that contains the key to renew liturgical song, according to a consultor for the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

“Father Uwe Michael Lang, also an official of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, made this observation Wednesday at a lecture at l'Accademia Urbana delle Arti in Rome.

“Father Lang pointed to the 1749 encyclical "Annus Qui" by Pope Benedict XIV as the "most important papal pronouncement on sacred music" prior to Pope St. Pius X's "Tra Le Sollecitudini."

“The 18th century encyclical "proposes the important criteria of sacred music that are valid beyond the limits of their historical context and resound also in our time," the priest said.

“Father Lang explained that the encyclical presents plainsong as normative for the Roman liturgy "while it approves unaccompanied polyphony and also permits orchestral music, though with certain conditions, in divine worship."…

“Here is an excerpt from Pope St. Pius X's 1903 motu proprio:

“1. Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries.

“2. Sacred music should consequently possess, in the highest degree, the qualities proper to the liturgy, and in particular sanctity and goodness of form, which will spontaneously produce the final quality of universality.

“It must be holy, and must, therefore, exclude all profanity not only in itself, but in the manner in which it is presented by those who execute it.

“It must be true art, for otherwise it will be impossible for it to exercise on the minds of those who listen to it that efficacy which the Church aims at obtaining in admitting into her liturgy the art of musical sounds.

“But it must, at the same time, be universal in the sense that while every nation is permitted to admit into its ecclesiastical compositions those special forms which may be said to constitute its native music, still these forms must be subordinated in such a manner to the general characteristics of sacred music that nobody of any nation may receive an impression other than good on hearing them.

“II. The different kinds of sacred music

“3. These qualities are to be found, in the highest degree, in Gregorian Chant, which is, consequently the Chant proper to the Roman Church, the only chant she has inherited from the ancient fathers, which she has jealously guarded for centuries in her liturgical codices, which she directly proposes to the faithful as her own, which she prescribes exclusively for some parts of the liturgy, and which the most recent studies have so happily restored to their integrity and purity.

“On these grounds Gregorian Chant has always been regarded as the supreme model for sacred music, so that it is fully legitimate to lay down the following rule: the more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savor the Gregorian form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

Noonan On Politics & Culture

She is one of the best big-picture writers, along with George Weigel, on contemporary politics—both are Catholic—as she does it once more in her Friday Wall Street Journal column.

An excerpt.

“If you write a column, you get a lot of email. Sometimes, especially in a political season, it's possible to discern from it certain emerging themes—the comeback of old convictions, for instance, or the rise of new concerns. Let me tell you something I'm hearing, in different ways and different words. The coming rebellion in the voting booth is not only about the economic impact of spending, debt and deficits on America's future. It's also to some degree about the feared impact of all those things on the character of the American people. There is a real fear that government, with all its layers, its growth, its size, its imperviousness, is changing, or has changed, who we are. And that if we lose who we are, as Americans, we lose everything.

“This is part of what's driving the sense of political urgency this year, especially within precincts of the tea party.

“The most vivid illustration of the fear comes, actually, from another country, Greece, and is brilliantly limned by Michael Lewis in October's Vanity Fair. In "Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds," he outlines Greece's economic catastrophe. It is a bankrupt nation, its debt, or rather the amount of debt that has so far been unearthed and revealed, coming to "more than a quarter-million dollars for every working Greek." Over decades the Greeks turned their government "into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums" and gave "as many citizens as possible a whack at it." The average government job pays almost three times as much as the average private-sector job. The retirement age for "arduous" jobs, including hairdressers, radio announcers and musicians, is 55 for men and 50 for women. After that, a generous pension. The tax system has disintegrated. It is a welfare state with a cash economy.

“Much of this is well known, though it is beautifully stated. But all of it, Mr. Lewis asserts, has badly damaged the Greek character. "It is simply assumed . . . that anyone who is working for the government is meant to be bribed. . . . Government officials are assumed to steal." Tax fraud is rampant. Everyone cheats. "It's become a cultural trait," a tax collector tells him.

“Mr. Lewis: "The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. . . . Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible."

“Thus can great nations, great cultures, disintegrate, break into little pieces that no longer cohere into a whole.

“And what I get from my mail is a kind of soft echo of this. America is not Greece and knows it's not Greece, but there is a growing sense—I should say fear—that the weighty, mighty, imposing American government itself, whether it meant to or not, has for years been contributing to American behaviors that are neither culturally helpful nor, as we now all say, sustainable: a growing sense of entitlement, of dependency, of resentment and distrust, and an increasing suspicion that everyone else is gaming the system. "I got mine, you get yours."

Sunday, October 10, 2010


October 7th, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, is also the day of the great victory at Lepanto, vividly recounted in this article from This Rock.

An excerpt.

“Americans know that in 1492 Christopher Columbus "sailed the ocean blue," but how many know that in the same year the heroic Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella conquered the Moors in Grenada? Americans would also probably recognize 1588 as the year of the defeat of the Spanish Armada by Francis Drake and the rest of Queen Elizabeth’s pirates. It was a tragedy for the Catholic kingdom of Spain and a triumph for the Protestant British Empire, and the defeat determined the kind of history that would one day be taught in American schools: Protestant British history.

“As a result, 1571, the year of the battle of Lepanto, the most important naval contest in human history, is not well known to Americans. October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrates the victory at Lepanto, the battle that saved the Christian West from defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.

“That this military triumph is also a Marian feast underscores our image of the Blessed Virgin prefigured in the Canticle of Canticles: "Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?" In October of 1564, the Viziers of the Divan of the Ottoman Empire assembled to urge their sultan to prepare for war with Malta. "Many more difficult victories have fallen to your scimitar than the capture of a handful of men on a tiny little island that is not well fortified," they told him. Their words were flattering but true. During the five-decade reign of Soleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire grew to its fullest glory, encompassing the Caucuses, the Balkans, Anatolia, the Middle East, and North Africa. Soleiman had conquered Aden, Algiers, Baghdad, Belgrade, Budapest, Rhodes, and Temesvar. His war galleys terrorized not only the Mediterranean Sea, but the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf as well. His one defeat was at the gates of Vienna in 1529.

“The Defense of Malta

“Malta was an infertile, dusty rock with so few natural springs that the Maltese had to collect rainwater in large clay urns. The island could sustain only the smallest population. Yet this little island guarded the Mediterranean passage from the Islamic East to the Christian West.

“From its excellent natural harbors, the galleys of the Knights of Saint John could sail forth and disrupt any Turkish assault on Italy. They could also board and seize Turkish merchantmen carrying goods from France or Venice to be hawked in the markets of Constantinople. The ladies of Soleiman’s harem, who accumulated great wealth speculating in glass and other Venetian luxuries, nagged the sultan to take Malta.

“Soleiman had bigger goals than pleasing these matrons, and he knew that, in Turkish possession, the harbors of Malta would afford him a base from which to continue his raids on the coast of Italy. With the greater control of the sea that it would afford him, he would be able to bring Venice to heel. An invasion of Sicily would be possible. Soleiman’s greatest dream, however, the dream of all Turks, the dream his soldiers toasted before setting off on every campaign, was the conquest of Rome. There the Turks could transform Michelangelo's St. Peter’s, then under construction, into a mosque, just as they had Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia more than a century before.

“Although the sultan had led his army on twelve major campaigns, this time his age would keep him home. The Turks sailed for Malta in the spring of 1565, and on May 18, their fleet was spotted offshore. That night, Jean de la Valette, the seventy-one-year-old Grand Master of the Knights of Saint John, led his warriors into their chapel where they confessed and then assisted at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

"A formidable army composed of audacious barbarians is descending on this island," he told them. "These persons, my brothers, are the enemies of Jesus Christ. Today it is a question of the defense of our Faith. Are the Gospels to be superseded by the Koran? God on this occasion demands of us our lives, already vowed to His service. Happy will be those who first consummate this sacrifice."

“Many of Valette’s 700 knights and their men-at-arms did just that. While Europe stood idly by, expecting the fortress to fall, the knights held their island against an Ottoman army of 40,000, including 6500 of the sultan’s elite Janissaries. Three-quarters of the Turkish army were killed over the four-month siege, before the Ottoman survivors turned and straggled back to Constantinople.

“Slaughter in Szigetvar

“Soleiman was outraged. "I see that it is only in my own hand that my sword is invincible!" exploded the sultan, and by May of the following year he was leading an army of 300,000 men across the plains of Hungary, bound for Vienna.

“When the Hungarian Count of Szigetvar, a fortress city on the eastern frontier of the Holy Roman Empire, led a successful raid on the Ottoman supply trains, Soleiman wheeled his massive army and swore to wipe the city off the map. Turkish engineers prepared flotillas and bridges to span the Drava and Danube rivers to lay siege to Szigetvar. To greet the sultan and to inspire his men, who were outnumbered fifty to one, Count Miklos Zrinyi raised a large crucifix over his battlements and fired his cannons in defiance. But Zrinyi knew that in a Hungary infested with Protestantism, hope of relief was even fainter than any the Knights of Malta had entertained the previous year.

“For nearly a month, wave after wave of Turkish infantry were thrown back from the walls. Soleiman offered Zrinyi rule of all Croatia if he would yield his city, but he answered, "No one shall point his finger on my children in contempt."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Daily Mass

It has become an important part of my life, and the history of communion frequency is an interesting one, as this article from The Catholic Thing notes.

An excerpt.

“In the sixteenth century, the Council of Trent – in addition to addressing problems connected with the Protestant Reformation – also focused on some internal problems caused by over-zealous Catholics intent on preventing disrespect for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Over-restrictive beliefs and/or customs prevailed in many places: for example, that Communion should be received only once a year, or only after confession. Accordingly, the Council issued decrees opposed to such conventions, and explicitly allowed for the frequent reception, even daily, of the Eucharist.

“Pope Pius X, at the beginning of the twentieth century, wanted to carry these developments even further. A special focus of his papacy was to encourage frequent Communion for all, after First Communion. From 1905 to 1910, a series of decrees and clarifications were issued under his direction, emphasizing that no sincere person in the state of grace should be prevented from approaching the “holy table,” that it is not necessary to go to confession at specific intervals such as weekly or monthly before reception, and that children especially should be encouraged to receive frequently, even daily, after First Communion.

“Certainly, from our contemporary standpoint – at least as regards weekly Communion – Pius X’s wishes have been fulfilled possibly beyond his own expectations. Those of us who are old enough to remember going to Sunday Mass in the mid 1950s, when fasting after midnight even from water was required (with the exception of certain evening Masses), can recall the wooden kneelers typically being raised in our pews to allow a number of people to go to Communion. It was simply presumed that those who did not receive had probably not fasted sufficiently (maybe because they were at a party the previous evening that lasted into the wee hours of the morning). Then again, after Pius XII changed the fasting rules across the board to “three hours for food, one hour for liquids,” one could still make the same presumption about failure to fast (especially for late morning Masses).

“But when Pope Paul VI in 1964 reduced fasting from food to one hour, the idea was that now almost anyone, if not conscious of any serious sin, could approach the Holy Table. In the aftermath, in my experience (and I expect in the experience of other Catholics), in almost any Catholic Church, at Sunday Mass, almost everyone, pew after pew, proceeds to receive the Eucharist.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

Catholic voters may be finally coming around to voting congruently with Catholic teaching, as this article from The Catholic Thing indicates.

An excerpt.

“This year, plenty of American voters are angry. They’re unhappy about the sad state of the economy, the anemic job market, and the “big brother knows best” policies emanating from the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress on everything from health care to climate change.

“This anger has sparked such anti-incumbent enthusiasm that pollsters have trouble believing their public opinion poll findings. The voter intensity of Tea Party and Republican supporters registering in polls is contrary to average off-year election weighted vote formulas. This explains why various poll results in a host of gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and Congressional races may seem to conflict with one another. Some pollsters are sticking to their traditional methodology, which modifies anti-incumbent turnout, while other pollsters are calling the results as their findings dictate. This means that Republican challengers, particularly in tight contests, may be further ahead of their opponents than conventional poll results indicate.

“In the final month of the fall campaign, the voting group to watch is the baby boomers. They are the most bummed-out group because the dreams of early and prosperous retirement for many of them have been shattered. Their diminished 401(k)s can no longer throw off the income needed to support the lifestyle to which they believe they are entitled. They are bitter because they have been hit by a triple whammy. They got clobbered when the tech bubble burst in 2000; then the equity in their homes significantly declined; and then their clocks were cleaned in the 2008-2009 stock market meltdown.

“Congressional candidates who support social issues that matter to Catholics could benefit from all this pent-up baby boomer anger. Unlike 2004, when moral and cultural issues were the most important factor in the voters’ decision-making process, this year these issues are at the bottom of the list of concerns. Hence, polls are indicating that many baby boomer anti-incumbent voters who are socially progressive, will vote for fiscally conservative challengers, even though those candidates may be pro-life.

“This is good news for house races in states like New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana that went for Obama in 2008. In my home state of New York, Republican and Conservative Party-endorsed Congressional candidates (most of whom oppose abortion) could pick up as many as six seats. Even former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, an unabashed social conservative, has a shot at knocking off our unelected junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand. Also, it looks like New York’s GOP will regain majority control of the state senate which means same-sex marriage proposals will be blocked.

“Likewise, in the very blue state of California, pro-lifer Carly Fiorina is in a dead heat in her race against Senator Barbara Boxer. And in Pennsylvania, Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey has a safe lead over pro-abortion opponent Congressman Joe Sestak.

“There’s more positive news: The sellout on the abortion provisions in Obamacare legislation by Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak and Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey, Jr. – in return for a lame executive order supposedly banning Federal funds for abortion – put an end to the argument that they can be a moderating influence on their party’s social issues agenda. Because the Democratic leadership has rejected Hillary Clinton’s 2005 call to be more tolerant of the beliefs of those who oppose abortion and ruthlessly crushed their tiny pro-life caucus, expect old-time Democrats of the Governor Bob Casey, Sr. type, to align themselves with like-minded Republicans. A recent poll of all baptized Catholics indicates they are trending Republican. Republicans have a twelve- point lead with Church-going Catholics. This is a significant shift from 2008, when 54 percent of baptized Catholics sided with Obama and practicing/church-going Catholics gave McCain 55 percent of their vote.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary

Today is her feast day, and it is another year past since I began praying the rosary on a regular basis, one of the great blessings of my life since my wife and I became Catholic in 2003, and today I read in the Catechism:

829 "But while in the most Blessed Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary": in her, the Church is already the "all-holy."

Here is an excerpt from the Saint of the Day.

“Pope St. Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

“The development of the rosary has a long history. First, a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus' life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary's giving the rosary to St. Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of St. Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as "the apostle of the rosary." He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century the rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 mysteries (joyful, sorrowful and glorious). In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Mysteries of Light to this devotion….


“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.”(Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter, The Rosary of the Virgin Mary #1).”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Witness and its Author, Witness Still

The book by Whittaker Chambers, Witness, is one of the most powerful denunciations of the communist way of life by a former American communist, through the lens of his Catholic faith, and this review of a new book about Chambers, from Acton, notes that.

An excerpt.

“Whittaker Chambers began Witness, the classic account of his time in the American Communist underground, with the declaration: “In 1937, I began, like Lazarus, the impossible return.” The line was most of all a deep recognition of the power of God to redeem what was once dead. Witness was a landmark account of the evils of Communism but most importantly a description of the bankruptcy of freedom outside of the sacred. “For Chambers, God was always the prime mover in the war between Communism and freedom. If God exists then Communism cannot,” says Richard Reinsch II. And it is Reinsch who reintroduces us to Chambers, the brilliant intellectual, anti-communist, and man of faith in Whittaker Chambers: The Spirit of a Counterrevolutionary.

“After his exodus from the Soviet Communist spy network in Washington, Chambers then outed U.S. State Department official Alger Hiss as a communist, setting up a dramatic espionage trial played out before the nation. Chambers became a household name thanks to a trial that was wrapped in intrigue, treachery, and Cold War drama. Chambers would become a hero for many in the conservative movement. William F. Buckley, Jr. called him the greatest figure who defected out of communism. But Chambers’ pessimism about the future of the West led him to be dismissed by many others, conservatives too.

“This pessimist view of the survival of the West against Marxism stems from Chambers’ understanding that the West was abandoning its sacred heritage of Christian thought, and within it, the proper understanding of man. A supposedly free but rampant secular and materialistic society still leads to the same ending as Marxism, outside of God, and unable to explain its reason and purpose for life.

“One of the chief takeaways from this book is that there must be more to conservatism than free-markets and limited government. For liberty to be prosperous it must be oriented toward greater truths. Reinsch points out that Chambers understood that the “West must reject Communism in the name of something other than modern liberalism and its foundation in the principles of Enlightenment rationalism.”

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Families & Crime

Other than those who attribute crime to social conditions—defining the criminal as part of the victim class—knowledgeable criminal justice practitioners understand that professional criminals often come from criminal families (also described as broken families) and this article from City Journal reminds us of that truth.

An excerpt.

“The Daley dynasty in Chicago may be giving way to the Obama-Emanuel political machine, but one thing remains constant in the Windy City: youth violence and a collective refusal to acknowledge its root cause. On the one-year anniversary of the beating death of a Chicago teen by his fellow students, Chicago remains in denial about the driving factor behind such mayhem: the disappearance of the black two-parent family.

“The September 24, 2009, mob assault on 16-year-old Derrion Albert was captured on cell-phone video and broadcast around the world, provoking a crisis in the Obama administration. The White House was at that moment pushing the International Olympic Committee to award the 2016 Games to Chicago, a city intimately associated with the president and his inner circle. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan hurriedly flew to the Windy City promising more federal aid, while the Chicago school system launched a $40-million social-services and security program to connect “at-risk” male students with social workers.

“Not surprisingly, the federal and local efforts have borne little fruit. Since Albert’s death, 78 more youth under the age of 19 have been killed in Chicago, overwhelmingly in black-on-black shootings. The studied silence in Chicago about the massive reality that underlies that city’s youth-violence epidemic—black family breakdown—is so complete as to border on perverse.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Public Survey on Crime

In what is not a surprise, the public has a pretty good understanding of the issues related to crime and punishment in America, as this September report from the Pew Center on the States notes.

An excerpt.

“Key Takeaways

“1. Voters are concerned first and foremost with keeping communities and people safe.

“2. Without question, voters want a strong public safety system where criminals are held accountable and there are consequences for illegal activities.

“3. Voters believe a strong public safety system is possible while reducing the size and cost of the prison system.

“The bottom line… let’s reduce crime.

“It does not matter whether a nonviolent offender is in prison for 21 or 24 or 27 months. What really matters is the system does a better job of making sure that when an offender does get out, he is less likely to commit another crime.”

“75% Strongly Agree

“91 % Total Agree”

Saturday, October 2, 2010

St. Jerome & Being Catholic

His feast day was September 30th and the Holy Father’s recent teaching, in two talks from November 7, 2007 and November 14, 2007, reminds us of the importance of the work he did.

An excerpt from November 7.

“Jerome's literary studies and vast erudition enabled him to revise and translate many biblical texts: an invaluable undertaking for the Latin Church and for Western culture. On the basis of the original Greek and Hebrew texts, and thanks to the comparison with previous versions, he revised the four Gospels in Latin, then the Psalter and a large part of the Old Testament. Taking into account the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Septuagint, the classical Greek version of the Old Testament that dates back to pre-Christian times, as well as the earlier Latin versions, Jerome was able, with the assistance later of other collaborators, to produce a better translation: this constitutes the so-called "Vulgate", the "official" text of the Latin Church which was recognized as such by the Council of Trent and which, after the recent revision, continues to be the "official" Latin text of the Church. It is interesting to point out the criteria which the great biblicist abided by in his work as a translator. He himself reveals them when he says that he respects even the order of the words of the Sacred Scriptures, for in them, he says, "the order of the words is also a mystery" (Ep. 57, 5), that is, a revelation. Furthermore, he reaffirms the need to refer to the original texts: "Should an argument on the New Testament arise between Latins because of interpretations of the manuscripts that fail to agree, let us turn to the original, that is, to the Greek text in which the New Testament was written. "Likewise, with regard to the Old Testament, if there are divergences between the Greek and Latin texts we should have recourse to the original Hebrew text; thus, we shall be able to find in the streams all that flows from the source" (Ep. 106, 2). Jerome also commented on many biblical texts. For him the commentaries had to offer multiple opinions "so that the shrewd reader, after reading the different explanations and hearing many opinions - to be accepted or rejected - may judge which is the most reliable, and, like an expert moneychanger, may reject the false coin" (Contra Rufinum 1, 16).

“Jerome refuted with energy and liveliness the heretics who contested the tradition and faith of the Church. He also demonstrated the importance and validity of Christian literature, which had by then become a real culture that deserved to be compared with classical literature: he did so by composing his De Viris Illustribus, a work in which Jerome presents the biographies of more than a hundred Christian authors. Further, he wrote biographies of monks, comparing among other things their spiritual itineraries as well as monastic ideal. In addition, he translated various works by Greek authors. Lastly, in the important Epistulae, a masterpiece of Latin literature, Jerome emerges with the profile of a man of culture, an ascetic and a guide of souls.

“What can we learn from St Jerome? It seems to me, this above all; to love the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. St Jerome said: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ". It is therefore important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialogue with the Word of God given to us in Sacred Scripture. This dialogue with Scripture must always have two dimensions: on the one hand, it must be a truly personal dialogue because God speaks with each one of us through Sacred Scripture and it has a message for each one. We must not read Sacred Scripture as a word of the past but as the Word of God that is also addressed to us, and we must try to understand what it is that the Lord wants to tell us. However, to avoid falling into individualism, we must bear in mind that the Word of God has been given to us precisely in order to build communion and to join forces in the truth on our journey towards God.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

Catholic Church Supports Capital Punishment

1) The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and two thousand years of traditional teaching are clear, the Church supports capital punishment to protect the innocent, completely examined in my book, Capital Punishment & Catholic Social Teaching: A Tradition of Support. and as the Catechism section on legitimate defense notes:

“Legitimate defense

“2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. "The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one's own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not."

“2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.

“2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

“2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people's rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the primary aim of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. When it is willingly accepted by the guilty party, it assumes the value of expiation. Punishment then, in addition to defending public order and protecting people's safety, has a medicinal purpose: as far as possible, it must contribute to the correction of the guilty party.

“2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2263-2267)

2) Unfortunately however, many bishop’s conferences have interpreted this—following the policies of the secular-humanistic factions some American conferences have long been aligned with, noted in a previous post—as cause for the abolition of capital punishment, as this recent case in California, reported by Catholic San Francisco Online, does.

An excerpt.

“The Catholic bishops of California, just two days prior to a scheduled execution at San Quentin State Prison, this week called for a moratorium on use of the death penalty in the state in order to evaluate whether its use “serves the common good and safeguards the dignity of human life.”

“The bishops said they are convinced it does not, and in a statement they implored all Californians “to ask themselves what good comes of state-sanctioned killing.”

“The bishops spoke as the California Catholic Conference, representing the state’s 12 dioceses and 11 million Catholic faithful, reaffirmed its opposition to the death penalty and asked for clemency for any individual on death row.

“The statement by Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and CCC president, was issued as lawyers for the state and condemned killer Albert Greenwood Brown sought eleventh-hour court orders that would either allow or postpone Brown’s scheduled execution Thursday at 9 p.m.

“We recognize the profound pain of those who lost a loved one to violence and offer them our prayers and our consolation,” Bishop Wilkerson said. “However, nothing can undo what was done – even taking the life of the convicted killer. The infliction of the death penalty does not make for a more just society.”

“Brown’s execution was to be the first in nearly five years in California. He was convicted and sentenced in 1982 for the 1980 rape and murder of Susan Jordan, 15, attacked while walking to school in Riverside. After the murder, Brown called the girl’s parents and told them they would never see her alive again. He directed them to the orange grove where her body was found. Just four months before he killed Susan Jordan, Brown had been paroled from state prison after being convicted of a 1977 rape of a 14-year-old girl.”