At this moment millions of people are in prisons around the world, some guilty of crimes, some not guilty. Some are there for their conscious and courageous choices to speak out against injustice of kind or another (and often for the illegal acts of their own governments). Even as governments continue to make, and prepare to make, war against others, and in some cases against their own people, brave people of conscience continue to speak and act to shine a light on the violent madness that permeates deep into the fabric of our societies.
That violence also permeates deep within prison systems, and fosters a culture in which those in power come to lose some part of their humanity as they learn to act with impunity, seeing and treating prisoners as “the other” and treating them as less than human . For most of us this systemic prison violence is off our radar. What goes on behind prison walls is hidden from view and rarely discussed in the media, except in carefully scripted and sanitized ways.
Father John Dear has stripped away the veneer in his column today in the National Catholic Reporter in which he speaks directly of the “cruel and unusual punishment” of a retributive justice system. He highlights our dear Bix, and he closes his reflection by saying “May we remember our imprisoned resisters and join their efforts for peace and justice, for a world without cruel and inhuman punishment.”
May we also remember all who are hidden behind prison walls as we work toward that vision of a world at peace and with justice for all.
Read Fr. Bill Bischel’s ordeal: Cruel and inhuman punishment in John Dear’s column On the Road to Peace in the National Catholic Reporter Online.
Filed under: Guest reflections