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Roman Catholic Pastoral Services

Prison Reform and Pastoral Care

Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:33-40)

It is in society's best interest to have prisons that protect the health and safety of inmates, because many won't always be incarcerated.


Common sense approaches to making any prison healthier and safer:

  • The safety of the inmate should be the number one priority in a prison. All staff are responsible for the safety of prisoners and should be held more accountable for any lapses in security and observation.
  • Most individuals who are incarcerated have a couple of things in common: most have suffered trauma, and/or neglect - (usually they are fatherless). It would be in the penal system and society's best interest for them to have the opportunity to process their trauma while inside.
  • Something that is sorely lacking, if not completely devoid among inmates (and staff), is any sense of genuine compassion, sympathy and empathy for themselves and especially for each other. Our school system is much the same way  - go figure. Most have never learned these thoughts and feelings, or they have forgotten them, but these concepts need to drilled into these people everyday. It should become part of the whole culture within the penal system. Frontline staff, while carrying out their duties with strictness and firmness, must also be models of compassion, sympathy and empathy.
  • Don't incarcerate first time non-violent offenders.
  • Get rid of mandatory minimums, three strikes, and other rigid, harsh, and extreme sentencing. It's the justice system, not the vengeance system.
  • No bartering, exchanging or borrowing between inmates, and that includes sex. All staff must also be looking out for any coercion between prisoners, especially vulnerable ones (new, young, docile etc.)
  • There should absolutely be no sexual activity (oral and anal) between inmates, and staff should never assume sex is consensual. Homosexuals/sodomites initiating such activity need to charged and labelled sex offenders.
  • Severe penalties (including criminal charges) for staff who "look the other way".
  • No gang policy.
  • Remove from penal institutions: all weight lifting, boxing and martial art equipment. Why? Because you don't want violent inmates to be any bigger and stronger and to be even more of a threat to other prisoners and staff. That's why.
  • Have oversight from at least two human rights groups.
  • Catholic Chaplain should (if possible) visit every new prisoner on the day they arrive. A prisoner should be encouraged to maintain relationship with Chaplain.
  • It's in societies best interest to have safe prisons. If they are not safe, prison staff are not doing their job.
  • Promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion is necessary in prisons because our Lord teaches us that NO ONE is beyond redemption, no one, no matter who they are, no matter what they've done. God's mercy is available to anyone who is repentant and asks for it.

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