A biblical vision for criminal justice
Eric Metaxas writes on BreakPoint:
We’ve been talking on BreakPoint about the violations of human dignity that are all too common in our criminal justice system. Christians cannot be silent in the face of outrages like prison rape, the mistreatment of mentally ill prisoners and overcrowded prison facilities.
What makes silence even more unacceptable is that there is a biblically-based alternative to the status quo; it’s called restorative justice.
Four years ago, Mike Huckabee summed up one of restorative justice’s key principles when he said that “we’ve got to quit locking up all the people that we’re mad at and lock up the people that we’re really afraid of …”
The distinction between “people we’re mad at” and “people we’re really afraid of” is crucial in restorative justice. Huckabee isn’t the only person to point out the increasingly punitive nature of American criminal justice. Longer sentences, the increased use of solitary confinement, and all but officially giving up on the idea of rehabilitation are just three examples of this trend.
Ironically, our justice system has grown more punitive even as violent crime rates have dropped. While there are exceptions, many American communities are safer than they have been since World War II. For instance, it is statistically safer to walk in Central Park at night today than it was in 1950.
We are spending money we don’t have to confine people “we’re mad at,” such as low-level drug and property offenders.
Restorative justice avoids this trap by treating crime as an offense first and foremost against the victim, not as an offense against the state.
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Learn more about the work of Justice Fellowship at justicefellowship.org.