Can Religious Ideals That Helped Shape the Broken U.S. Prison System Also Help Fix Them?
Date:  07-20-2020

America's criminal justice system holds the ‘fundamental belief that the harm caused by crime is resolved by state-imposed suffering'
From America Magazine:

It was week three of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, and some Michiganders had grown impatient. On April 15, thousands of protesters gridlocked downtown Lansing to demand the state’s reopening. In defiance of social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of Covid-19, many protesters crowded together outside the capitol building; few wore masks. They called for “freedom” and chanted “Lock her up.” “Gov. Whitmer We Are Not Prisoners!!!” read one sign.

The next day, Troy Rienstra joined a smaller group of protesters at the state capitol—not to protest the stay-at-home order but to advocate for the 38,000 people in the state who are actual prisoners. Aside from a few honking car horns, the protest was silent; people stayed in their vehicles and drove through the city, funeral procession style, to draw attention to the inmates and prison guards who had already died of coronavirus (then around a dozen but surpassing 70 by early June) and urge the governor to take swift action so those numbers would not increase.

Mr. Rienstra understood why people were upset about the stay-at-home order, but as he explained over a video call in mid-April, his own coronavirus mantra is, “Always be mindful that it could always be worse.” Being cooped up at home was not ideal, but he had the company of his wife and daughter, two adorable Rottweilers, plenty of books and a Netflix subscription. He was not complaining.

“Twenty-two years in prison—with six years in solitary confinement—will get you ready [to appreciate] the comforts of home [while] being locked indoors,” he told me. When he talks with other formerly incarcerated people, they remind one another: “We’re a long way from the yard, and we definitely know what bad looks like. And this is nothing.” Continue reading >>>