A spiritual vision for prison reform

I remember thinking, after visiting with a man convicted of murder, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” That may sound unusual, but I’ve learned in talking with men and women in prison over the years, that beneath the sometimes rough exterior, are people who have made mistakes and would dearly like to reconnect to their better selves.

In the United States we have done a poor job of rehabilitating those we send to prison—with the unfortunate result that the vast majority become repeat offenders. To care for 2.3 million inmates, the US spends $80 billion annually on its correctional system—or $35,000 per inmate (Michael Shank, “Peace is profitable: time for the US to invest,” The Christian Science Monitor, July 18, 2011). Yet some of the best work done to rehabilitate individuals in prison is by volunteers from the religious community. To me, this serves as a stark lesson: It’s not about how much money is spent; rather it’s about the vision that supports rehabilitation.

In the Christian Science Bible Lesson
Stay in the race
October 17, 2011

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