Indifference toward prisoners puts our souls at risk
Three years ago, Michael McIntosh went to visit his son, a juvenile offender at the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility near Jackson, Mississippi. When he arrived he was told that his son, Mike, wasn’t there.
Since Mike hadn’t been released from custody, something was very wrong. It took six weeks and a tip from a prison nurse to find Mike, who was in a hospital in Greenwood several hours from Jackson. It’s as if prison officials were trying to hide Mike.
And for good reason: Mike “could barely move, let alone sit up.” He couldn’t see or talk; he had a “baseball-size knot on the back of his head;” and he was covered in cuts, bruises and stab wounds.
As a result of his injuries, Mike sustained brain damage that left his cognitive abilities resembling that of a two-year-old. Mike suffered these injuries as the result of a “youth melee” at the facility, and “no one bothered to tell his father.” …
[Now] Mississippi faces another lawsuit over prison conditions: in May, the ACLU sued the state on behalf of residents at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility. The ACLU alleges that conditions at the facility have “cost many prisoners their health, and their limbs, their eyesight, and even their lives.”
The complaint alleges that “solitary confinement zones house dozens of seriously mentally ill prisoners who are locked down in filthy cells for days, weeks, or even years at a time.” The plaintiffs say that “rapes, stabbings, beatings, and … acts of violence are rampant.” …
These violations persist because the vast majority of Americans practice their own brand of “deliberate indifference” when it comes to the treatment of prisoners.
But we don’t have that option. Jesus made it clear that deliberate indifference to their plight puts our souls at risk. In addition, if we remain silent in the face of these offenses against human dignity, then we will deserve it when people tune us out when we talk about matters like religious freedom and marriage. We will be just another special interest in a nation full of them.