"Today when I think of reentry court, I am reminded that nearly every offender sentenced to time in custody will return to the community from whence they came. And thus, every sentencing court is in fact, a reentry court, creating a pathway for the offender’s reentry into society." -Jeff Tauber

COMMENTARY

POPE URGES THE NEW YEAR TO BE A HOLY YEAR OF AMNESTY FOR PRISONERS

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 8.12.12 PMPope Francis continues to bring the attention of the world to the plight of the poor and the imprisoned. In his annual peace message he urged policy-makers  to overcome what he called the “globalization of indifference”.

In his Annnual Peace Message just released, the Pope has urged all governents to  consider granting a Holy Year of Amnesty for the most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, migrants, prisoners and the elderly.

“On the institutional level, indifference to others and to their dignity, their fundamental rights and their freedom, when it is part of a culture shaped by the pursuit of profit and hedonism, can foster and even justify actions and policies which ultimately represent threats to peace,”

 Specifically he urged governments to consider urgent measures to improve conditions of prisoners, especially those awaiting trial. He called for governments to abolish the death penalty and consider alternatives to incarceration as well as a Holy Year amnesty., In the message, Francis called for concrete and “courageous gestures” from governments in this, his Holy Year of Mercy, to find jobs for the unemployed, to review laws so that migrants are welcomed, to relieve the debt of poor countries and to ensure that the sick receive necessary treatment.

[A previous Commentary has given voice to the Pope’s views on crime and imprisonment]

‘God is a prisoner,’ says pope in call for justice system reform

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 8.12.12 PMNOTE: Sept 18,2015…With the Pope visiting the U.S. this week, I think his statements in regard to incarceration and imprisonment are extraordinary and extremely timely as the nation looks at the issues leading to overpopulated prisons.

Pope Francis,in a talk with Italian Prison Chaplains called for a more humane justice system, saying God too was “a prisoner” of the world’s injustices and was in every cell. Rather than write about the Pope’s words, here are his extraordinary words as spoken::

“God is a prisoner too. He is inside the cell,”

He is a prisoner of our egoism, of our systems, of the many injustices… that punish the weak while the big fish swim freely,”

“You have spoken of a justice system for reconciliation, a justice system of hope, of open doors, of new horizons,” he said. “This is no utopia. It can happen,”

“Thinking about this is good for me: When we have the same weakness, why did they fall and I didn’t? This is a mystery that makes me pray and draws me to prisoners,”

“No cell is so isolated that it can keep the Lord out. “He is there. He cries with them, works with them, hopes with them. His paternal and maternal love arrives everywhere.”

“He, too, is imprisoned today, imprisoned in our selfishness, our systems, and many injustices because it’s easy to punish the weakest, but the big fish swim free.”

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