BELOW ARE BOOKS THAT I WOULD RECOMMEND FOR ANYBODY WORKING IN PRISON MINISTRY AND INTERESTED IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM.
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The Criminal Justice system is broken: both the ideal of justice and that of rehabilitation have been lost, but there is hope. Everyone can agree on that. Right now, criminal justice costs too much, it punishes those with drug problems and mental illness who commit crimes, but doesn’t offer them the help that they need, and often, it merely slaps the wrist of violent offenders who go on to offend over and over again. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and the public can all agree that “the system” isn’t working. Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, Jason W. Swindle, Sr. has stepped up in The Verdict Is In: Fix the Criminal Justice System to offer innovative new ideas and a fresh vision for fixing the broken criminal justice system in an effort to get this important national conversation started. The Verdict Is In pulls back the curtain of the legal system itself for the uninitiated to see “how it really works in real life.”
I had the opportunity to interview Jason Swindle Jr. the author of this book on the“Detention to Redemption” podcast in Episode 012: Jason Swindle, A Criminal Defense Attorney’s View On The Power Of Prison Ministry
More than 2 million persons occupy America’s prisons and jails today — the highest per capita incarceration rate in U.S. history. With just 6 percent of the world’s population, the United States now holds 25 percent of its prisoners. At what social cost do we build and fill more prisons? In Good Punishment, James Samuel Logan critiques the American obsession with imprisonment as punishment, calling it “retributive degradation” of the incarcerated. His analysis draws on both salient empirical data and material from a variety of disciplines — social history, anthropology, law and penal theory, philosophy of religion — as he uncovers the devastating social consequences (both direct and collateral) of imprisonment on such a large, unprecedented scale. A distinctive contribution of this book lies in its development of a Christian social ethics of “good punishment” embodied as a politics of “healing memories” and “ontological intimacy.” Logan earnestly explores how Christians can best engage with the real-life issues and concerns surrounding the American practice of imprisonment.
Two parables that have become firmly lodged in popular consciousness and affection are the parable of the Good Samaritan and the parable of the Prodigal Son. These simple but subversive tales have had a significant impact historically on shaping the spiritual, aesthetic, moral, and legal traditions of Western civilization, and their capacity to inform debate on a wide range of moral and social issues remains as potent today as ever. Noting that both stories deal with episodes of serious interpersonal offending, and both recount restorative responses on the part of the leading characters, Compassionate Justice draws on the insights of restorative justice theory, legal philosophy, and social psychology to offer a fresh reading of these two great parables. It also provides a compelling analysis of how the priorities commended by the parables are pertinent to the criminal justice system today. The parables teach that the conscientious cultivation of compassion is essential to achieving true justice. Restorative justice strategies, this book argues, provide a promising and practical means of attaining to this goal of reconciling justice with compassion.
Recently a growing number of Christians have actively promoted the concept of “restorative justice” and attempted to develop programs for dealing with crime based on restorative principles. But is this approach truly consistent with the teaching of Scripture? To date, very little has been done to test this claim. Beyond Retribution fills a gap by plumbing the New Testament on the topics of crime, justice, and punishment.
Christopher Marshall first explores the problems involved in applying ethical teachings from the New Testament to mainstream society. He then surveys the extent to which the New Testament addresses criminal justice issues, looking in particular at the concept of the justice of God in the teachings of Paul and Jesus. He also examines the topic of punishment, reviewing the debate in social thinking over the ethics and purpose of punishment — including capital punishment — and he advocates a new concept of “restorative punishment.” The result of this engaging work is a biblically based challenge to imitate the way of Christ in dealing with both victims and offenders.