Monday, February 17, 2014

Being More Compassionate to Those Imprisoned...

Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.  Hebrews, Chapter 13, verse 3.

I need to work on being more compassionate to those who have been imprisoned.  It’s easy for me to sit back in my comfortable house and forget about the plight of others less fortunate.  I can rationalize that they have made poor choices and have been removed from society as a consequence for these actions.  In reality, I’m not sure I agree with that philosophy anymore.  Sure, I think rapists, child molesters and mass murders should be kept from returning to society.  Often these people get released from prison on parole after a certain amount of time and some therapy, only to rape, molest and kill again.  This makes no sense when the prisons are full of other people who have done much less and may never get out.  I just don’t understand.
There are people who are in prison indefinitely for stealing food or cigarettes, doing stupid pranks and generally making poor choices.  Are these people a threat to society?  I’m sure there are some sociopaths who pose a threat, but I think there are many prisoners who would be more help to society on the outside than behind bars. 
There is a Bible passage that says: Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.  Proverbs, Chapter 6, verses 30-31.  God is talking about having him make restitution rather than imprisoning him.
With our country’s financial situation, we can’t afford to hire enough people to clean our parks and waterways, assist the aged, work with the handicapped and provide productive services for the community.  These options would allow prisoners to maintain their dignity while making restitution at the same time.  It sure beats having people in a penal system where they are more apt to become corrupted by the quantity of negative influences they encounter than to be rehabilitated.  Many of those imprisoned have the potential to be productive members of society with some assistance and guidance.  (As I said before, I’m not including people who are rapists, molesters and killers in this category.)
It saddens me to think that there is no real equity in the penal system.  There are people who were CEO’s for multimillion dollar firms, who embezzled the funds of their company.  Many of their co-workers have since lost their jobs, their retirements and their livelihoods because of the impact the embezzlement had on the company’s finances.  Often these people don’t go to jail, because they have enough money to hire expensive attorneys.  If they do go to jail, it’s for a short amount of time in a swanky prison.  They write their memoirs and make a fortune.
It’s sad that the system doesn’t make them make restitution to all those who lost their retirements.  Don’t you think it would be an excellent logical consequence if they had to take the royalties from their memoirs to pay for the retirements of those hard workers whose retirement funds had been embezzled?
Then there are minorities who are imprisoned and are doing hard time because they didn’t have a ritzy lawyer defending them for things that pale in comparison.  They end up spending a big portion their lives in prisons that could never compare to the swanky ones of those who embezzled millions.  This just doesn’t seem equitable to me.
I need to remember to keep prisoners in my prayers, but there may be other things we can do.  There are organizations that we could contact that would tell us ways that we could help the families of prisoners.  A monumental way we can help is by being willing to hire someone who has formerly been in prison.  How are they ever going to support their family and become a productive member of society if no one hires them?  We could make a difference in their lives.

Because this is an example of how I’ve applied this Bible passage to my life, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the whole meaning of the passage.

This is a connection I've made from this Bible passage. Please share your connections.

Translate

Zoe Ministry.org

Zoe Ministry.org
Empower Orphans to Raise Their Siblings

AmeriCares.org

AmeriCares.org
Saving Lives World Wide

Heifer International.org

Heifer International.org
A Gift of an Animal Can Change People's Lives

Link