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Criminal Justice

I criticized in a recent column the idea that Christians should not cooperate with the criminal justice system to the point that churches refuse to call police. That does not mean that churches should accept every aspect of contemporary ideas of crime and punishment, as they assuredly have so much that is useful and innovative […] Read More

The total number of people in the U.S. correctional system and the number of inmates under sentence of death in U.S. prisons both declined in 2016, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) statistical briefs published in late April. Slightly more than 6.6 million inmates were in the U.S. correctional system (this includes persons in […] Read More

U.S. jails saw a population increase in 2016, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics data released on Feb. 22. Jails housed 740,700 in 2016, a 1.8 percent (13,300-person) increase from 2015, while the average daily population saw a 1.6 percent increase (11,800) to 731,300. The jail incarceration rate (the number of inmates per 100,000 population) […] Read More

The first public speech of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, an adaptation of Isaiah 61:1-2, declares his calling to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners.” In one of his final public speeches in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus identifies himself with, among other groups, people in prison – “I was in prison and you came to visit me.” While […] Read More

My sister shared a moving testimony last week concerning what she witnessed at a recent funeral service. The deceased was an elderly woman who had committed her adult life to prison ministry. Sister Eva’s pastor shared, “I noticed that Sister Eva was only at worship service a few times a month. When I asked her […] Read More

“I know you wonder if all the conversions are real,” Joe said to our church council. He was right. The number of conversions reported by our prison minister (he was a part-time, contract minister) was amazing. “Even if one-tenth of them are real, this is worth it,” Joe declared. Legendary are the jailhouse conversions. Skeptics […] Read More

Incarceration is, by definition, a problem because its reason for being is a response to behavior outside the legal norms of a society. It is also an arena for many “problems within the problem” because of the challenges inherent in its application and management. Studies show the clear and well-known correlation of such factors as […] Read More

The number of persons with a severe mental illness (SMI) in U.S. jails is growing, requiring treatment services most jails are unprepared to offer, according to a report by The Pew Charitable Trusts released on Jan. 24. “Although the central purpose of jails is to detain people who engage in criminal behavior and pose a […] Read More

U.S. prisons saw an overall population decline in 2016, continuing a three-year trend in both federal and state facilities, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report released on Jan. 9. Overall, there were 21,200 fewer prisoners in 2016 than in 2015, a 1 percent decline. This is an imprisonment rate of 450 per 100,000 […] Read More

Efficient and effective integration of healthcare with other rehabilitative initiatives is essential to reducing recidivism, according a report from The Pew Charitable Trusts released on Oct. 18. “Emerging research suggests that underlying health issues, particularly substance use disorders and mental illness, contribute to incarceration and recidivism, and that treatment, combined with seamless care continuity for […] Read More