The California government is getting scary. They’re outlawing entire industries and all forms of punishment. This coming Op-Ed I found is a fascinating, hamster-based insight into the connections between care-based morality, totalitarian socialism, hatred of God and Daddy Issues.
Op-Ed: A Christian Case for Prison Abolition
By Catharine Grainge, 5 September 2019
Editor’s Note: The following is an op-ed from Catharine Grainge, a graduate from Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law and a public defender at with the Defenders Association of Philadelphia.
I am a pastor’s kid, raised in the Church. My parents are the true-believer type—showing us how to live out our faith in every aspect of our lives. Not only were we taught the Bible in church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, but our dinner table conversations were full of catechism questions, dogma, and philosophical theology. After we were homeschooled, we were sent to private Christian schools. No dating, no secular music, no cable; modest clothing and modest lifestyles; bible study, youth group, Summer VBS; and missions trips to share the love of Jesus. You get it.
Annoyingly overbearing as they might have been, Catharine, you were very fortunate to have parents who cared that much about you… enough to insist upon modest clothing and homeschooling.
I don’t believe all that I once did. While I—like many—have had to find healing from the legalism and self-righteousness that can run deep in the Church, my understanding of grace, mercy and redemption first came from Jesus on the cross. And I believe that it was those concepts that gave me the framework to understand and to join the ranks of some of the most amazing people—prison abolitionists.
So, what is prison abolition? Surely, I do not mean to say that we should abolish all prisons.
Actually, I do. But I’ll tell you a little bit about how I got here.
Daddy overcontrolled her in childhood, now she’s getting back at him by exonerating all the sexy bad boys with whom she’s making up for lost fuck-time. I think it’s VERY telling that she responded to her structured childhood by becoming a defense lawyer. But sure, let’s hear the official story while the popcorn cooks.
My journey toward becoming a prison abolitionist began with an understanding of how slavery is connected to the criminal legal system. After slavery was abolished in 1865, we see an uptick in the number of prisons in this country. Some plantations turned directly into prisons (google “Angola, Louisiana”) and people incarcerated there, often in the form of convict-leasing, were forced to pick cotton, again. Explicitly racist laws referred to as “Black Codes” and the rise of Jim Crow segregation created a world where black people were hyper-criminalized and where process in the courts was just a superficial display—if they made it that far (lynching by white mobs was a prevalent form of racial terror between 1877 and 1950).
Sigh, yet another fembot thinks the American Revolution was Rosa Parks riding the bus. An alternative theory is that blacks do better with adult supervision and were given more freedom by carpetbagging Northerners than they could handle. And isn’t that about the time said carpetbaggers began forced race mixing?
I’d bet money that she regards her religiously uptight childhood as her own form of Jim Crow segregation, and “white lynch mob” is a strawman for “Daddy said no smartphone”.
Starting in the 1960s, tough-on-crime rhetoric was utilized by Republican and Democratic politicians alike. In 1971, our own president declared a war on drugs—survivors of which still fill our jails and prisons.
Those poor, innocent crackheads! Barbie, you haven’t seen the gov’t wage war on drugs unless you’ve been to the Philippines in recent years. You can’t spell “war on drugs” without Duterte.
After 9/11, police departments became more militarized than ever, often receiving funding or weaponry based upon the number of arrests made.
…Of fathers falsely accused by their wives of abuuuse. Oops, that started before 9/11. But the ‘drug war’ started before 9/11, too.
Today, we have the world’s highest rate of incarceration: 716 per 100,000, 2.3 million people. Our probation and parole numbers are far greater. Black people are incarcerated at a rate five times that of white people. Racist laws and systems (and the racism written on our hearts) have worked in a plethora of ways to dehumanize, segregate, disenfranchise, criminalize, and otherwise oppress black people.
She’s really pushing the “plight of black people”. She’s probably black herself to judge from the misspelled name but can’t confirm. I’m impressed by her father if he not only controlled his Snowflake but did so amidst the corruption of modern black family life.
That could explain his overreligiousness, if he depended upon the Church for support in leading his family. As I mentioned in a previous post, there’s no shame in needing a crutch to accomplish a good life. God didn’t make everybody strong&independent, heh.
My friend Jose, who is serving a life sentence in California…
BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA *gasp* HAHAHAHA! *wheeze* *wheeze* She wants prison abolished so she can *snort* be with “Jose” once again….
How does a Philly defense attorney have a male ‘friend’ in California’s prisons?
…explained it like this: the 13th Amendment, which was passed at the end of the Civil War, was enacted to abolish slavery. But there is a catch literally written into the amendment: slavery is permitted in prison. Jose recently reasoned: “I guess that’s what they mean when they say ‘orange is the new black.’”
Prison IS slavery, just not slavery for economic reasons, hence the exception. I don’t hear you complaining about white slaves so FOAD, Altar Girl Barbie. I got no time for Tyrone’s hybristophiliac girlfriends.
Enslaved people were kidnapped from their country and culture; the growing number of immigrants in our prisons (“detention centers”) were not kidnapped—although we can point to US intervention in their home-countries as one of the reasons for their need to flee.
To the US which persecuted them? Her care-based morality and Daddy Issues have morphed into the globalist agenda. America is evil but the world needs our mothering! It’s Dalrock’s Law on political crack.
I could go on: it’s different. But my point is to show that the dehumanization and profit practices so prevalent in the slavery era have been manifested in this era of mass incarceration.
The slaves were innocent. The prisoners are not. Big difference, unless you’re in twu wuv with Jose.
I really wish I had a picture of her. I bet her lower eyelids are so raised that her eyes look like crescents. And assuming she’s black, her hair is braided into dreadlocks that resemble earthworms.
Another part of this journey has been my growth in understanding why people commit crimes, and thus better understanding what we need to do in order to prevent them. Angela Davis talks about prison abolition in her book Are Prisons Obsolete?. Her argument largely focuses on what prisons cannot do for us.
I may not have Catherine’s pic but I do have Angels Davis’.
Them’s the eyes I’m talking about! But I biffed on the hair. No, wait…
Sigh, okay, 1 for 2. A quick Wikipedia quote: “Angela Yvonne Davis… co-founded Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison–industrial complex. Davis’s membership in the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) led California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1969 to attempt to have her barred from teaching at any California university. She supported the governments of the Soviet Bloc for several decades. During the 1980s, she was twice a candidate for Vice President on the CPUSA ticket. She left the party in 1991.”
She said: “The prison…functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers. This is the ideological work that the prison performs—it relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism.”
Believe it or not, the American Psychological Association has a term for what she’s describing: psychopolitical dehumanization.
If you can understand crime not as an issue of evil people doing evil things, but rather people going through life with a lack of support, a lack of resources, systemic oppression, etc., it becomes easier to recognize that prison is where we throw away the people we have failed.
If you can understand crime like that, you’re female. And not Christian.
I have had enough of these conversations to know what you might be itching to ask me at this point—but what about the serial killers, psychopaths, rapists, and child molesters? For one, look at the President, look at Congress, look at the Supreme Court, look at our college campuses; hopefully, I am not the first to point out to you that we already live in a world where people who have committed that sort of harm are not locked away in prison.
Wow, she shot her own argument in the foot with a freakin’ cannon! Yes, Grainge, Congress is a great example of why “no prisons for crooks” is a bad, awful, horrible idea.
More importantly, there are other ways to hold accountable people who cause horrible harm; and there are ways to prevent that harm from happening in the first place. Ways that might get us closer to justice for the people who have been harmed and ways that might better “reform” or heal the people who have done the harming. The radical act of imagining a criminal justice system without prisons cannot be severed from a movement to create systemic change in our education, healthcare, policing, economic, and political systems.
This idea is from the Humanist Manifesto, the idea that humans are infinitely malleable and with proper… guidance, can be made to behave any way their rulers want.
It’s hard to imagine what this might look like because we have never lived in a world without prison.
Cain & Abel. When there was no criminal justice system, God punished Cain directly.
I have some ideas, but let’s just get through the rest of this and then we can dream it up together.
Disclaimer: This was not an extensive explanation of prison abolition at all. It was an overview of the arguments that I find most convincing. If you need/want more, take a look at this guide my friend created.
Okay, so let’s get into the Jesus stuff.
You’ve heard of Jonah, I assume? Thanks to some deep sea transportation, Jonah eventually made it to Nineveh and delivered this message: if the people of Nineveh do not turn from their evil ways, destruction will come quickly. And it worked! Jonah 3 tells us that when the king of Nineveh heard Jonah’s message, he repented and told his people to do the same.
That’s the worst, least Biblical summary of Jonah EVER. God told Jonah to go East to Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire, to warn them away from their justly deserved doom. Jonah immediately got on a ship heading West so he could watch Israel’s enemy get what they deserved from a safe distance.
Jonah sitting in fish barf for the return journey was not a beautiful expression of how God lovingly helps his servants to do His will. Crime, meet punishment. You might even call that fish ride… an imprisonment.
Then when Jonah saved Nineveh as requested, despite minimal effort (per Scripture, all he cared to preach was a countdown), he was bitter at God for showing kindness to people who in Jonah’s opinion, didn’t deserve it. An incredibly relevant morality play normally buried under “he got swallowed by a whale!”
But here, Grainge skips the “evil Assyrian empire” and “enemy of God’s people” and “deserve to be destroyed unless they repent” concepts to “God wuvs you!”
But in a chapter titled “Jonah’s Anger and the Lord’s Compassion” (Jonah 4), Jonah has a really funny and melodramatic conversation with God.
Jonah: did I not tell you this would happen? You are so darn gracious and forgiving, I knew you would save them. Just kill me now. …
God: You feel upset because you lost a thing that you can neither take credit for creating, nor were you able to preserve it. How can you argue that I should not spare this great city and all of its people and livestock—that I created!?
Church, this is us! How easy it has been to sit in our pews and to sink deeply into our self-righteousness as we see the “fallen” world around us. How easy it is to take our sobriety, our support, our resources, our faith, for granted—as if something we earned. How easy it is to throw up our hands and say “I told them they were wrong, it’s on them if they miss it.” We did not get here on our own, nor do we have the power to stay here.
Giving up was not Jonah’s crime.
Thankfully, God is still the God who shelters us from the sun, then moves nature to rid us of it so that we can see the error in our ways. Thankfully, God is still the God that is full of more mercy and more grace than any of us could muster.
Yo, Pastorette, saving Nineveh was not the point. Showing mercy was not the point. Jonah is not a story that social engineers can comprehend because they start with the assumption that there is no God. Certainly, not one able to have opinions about our conduct.
That’s how we got 32 flavors of gender-bending. What deity said there were only supposed to be two gender? Well, we killed that one so HA!
Remember the story of the prodigal son? … The older son, at this point, was pretty pissed. He had done all that was required of him; he had remained faithful to his father, and he had stayed while his brother had left. So, he refused to go to the party. He said to his father: “I have been here this whole time. I have never left you and yet you never celebrated me. My brother comes home from wasting your money and you throw a party for him!” The father replied: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad…”
In other words, “show some grace!”
Read it again, Barbie. The loyal son was upset that his father showed great kindness to somebody who did not deserve it. The father’s reply was a reminder that the loyal son was heir to everything the father owned, whereas the prodigal was a penniless charity case in the father’s home.
Why, if God is willing to forgive us so much, should we make every effort to live holy? Because the opportunities we have in this life will not be repeated in all eternity. Never shall we have the chance to worship and glorify God as we do today. To become who we want to be for eternity.
If all Slutwalk Barbie gets out of Christianity is “God forgives everything!” then she won’t even have that. Nobody plays God for a chump and gets away with it.
Thankfully, God is still the God who runs to embrace us when we run away and the God who loves us through our jealousy and self-righteousness. God is still the God that shows us more mercy and more grace than we deserve—and the type of father who lovingly nudges us to do the same.
She ran away from Daddy yet expects him to keep picking up the bill for her squalid behavior. Both her physical and spiritual Daddies. And the existence of prison is a reminder of truths… and moral requirements… that she’d rather ignore.
There are a lot of other stories of mercy and grace, I’m sure you are familiar with them:
She describes the woman caught in adultery, Zacchaeus, and Road to Damascus. Skipped, but I’ll say in passing that she portrays Zack’s repentance as the result of forgiveness, but the Biblical account puts his repentance first.
You probably already knew about all of this grace and mercy. But you might be asking “how will we maintain order?”
Not a Christian concern. You can’t both be right with God and a murderous thieving terror to society. But atheists have constant trouble squaring the circle of “*WE* are free to do as *I* wish.”
It is true that society needs to have rules in order to function well. But it is also true that we need to lead with grace. We can still have laws and we can still have order without throwing people away, without locking people in cages, without forgetting about our need for redemption and mercy.
Nineteen Eighty-four’s O’Brien said it better: “First we said thou shalt not. Then we said thou shalt. Now we say, thou art.” We will not need prisons when disobedience, like thoughtcrime, is rendered impossible by our masters.
One more story.
I think it is fair to say that the moment where we get the clearest view of Jesus’s mercy and grace is when He is hanging on the cross. Many have explained it this way: knowing that we were separated from God because of our sin, Jesus decided to come to us. He decided to live the perfect life that God requires, the life none of us can live, and then die the death we all deserve to die—in order to save us from it! In a world so tainted by greed and harm, Jesus pushed aside all that distracts us and pulled us in. When we had no way of saving ourselves, He showed us some ridiculous—amazing—grace and brought us close.
Which is it, Grainge? Are our prisons full of innocents or do they need God’s forgiveness?
Why, if our prisons are full of people who belong there, should the Christian let them out? God did not forgive us. God did not forgive us. He butchered Christ in our place BECAUSE He could not simply forgive us. The bloodguilt of our evil was not waived. It was paid. But this is the spiritual side of evil.
On the mortal side of evil, we who follow God’s example CANNOT let the guilty go free because God didn’t, either. Jonah was punished. Zacchaeus was punished. Paul was punished. Christ’s offer of forgiveness is only valid for escaping damnation. It does NOT include escaping the consequences of our decisions. For that, God demands everything from spanking children to a final Judgment Day.
Christ’s offer is also conditional on repentance. Again, Jonah, Zacchaeus and Paul all repented of the evils they did. Nowhere in all her talk about forgiveness did she mention repentance. But she did imagine the future day that government makes disobedience impossible via mind control.
Hanging next to Jesus were two “criminals.” The Bible says they were thieves; we don’t really know much else.
We know enough that “criminals” shouldn’t have been put in quotes.
One thief ridiculed Jesus, and the other asked for forgiveness. Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, today, you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23). Jesus also looked around him and down below and had mercy on those who he saw. “And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on His right and one on His left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.” (Luke 23).
Jesus forgave the Roman soldiers who did the deed because they honestly didn’t know He was God. No criminal intent, to use the jargon. Jesus did not forgive Judas or the criminal on His OTHER side.
My favorite theologian, Rachel Held Evans…
An Episcopalian, journalist and NeverTrumper associated with Zondervan. Died recently. Here’s a quote from an opinion she wrote on Vox.com: “Voting pro-choice is not the same as voting for abortion”.
…once said this about that night: Perhaps we’re afraid that if we get out of the way, this grace thing might get out of hand. Well, guess what? It already has. Grace got out of hand the moment the God of the universe hung on a Roman cross and with outstretched hands looked out upon those who had hung him there and declared, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
But you DO know the evil you do, Grainge. You hate your father because he kept you from twerking like a pro. You want your thugboy friend to escape justice. You want government to be your God while twisting the real God into a galactic dupe.
And just to make sure you know the evil you do, God made dissidents like me to helpfully point it out for the world to see. I’m sure you will cheerfully forgive any resulting embarrassment.
But why is it so radical, so great, so amazing that Jesus chose mercy over retribution? Over punishment? As creator of the world, as knower of all things, Jesus understood something we often miss about mercy—it moves us in ways that punishment, that getting what we deserve, cannot.
“I can tame the unicorn with my feminine wiles!”
I’m sorry I asked.
Bryan Stevenson, my favorite lawyer, put it this way in his book Just Mercy: “When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.”
Mercy is why the Christian punishes evil in the first place, to convince the wicked to repent. It worked on Jonah. If the evil is too great then we show mercy to society instead and hang the wicked to Judgment Day.
The worst possible fate for the wicked, in the long run, is to die fat and happy.
If we have claimed to follow Jesus, we need to actually follow Jesus. We will never be perfect at it, but here is an area where we need to do better. When our system of incarceration and policing is so biased and harsh that one in three black baby boys will end up in jail, that is on us. When society decides to lock someone in a cage for the rest of their life, that is on us. When our government decides to repay murder with murder, that is on us.
Per Genesis 9:6, God requires that murderers be put to death because human life is sacred.
If Jesus were alive today, I think He would be a prison abolitionist. I think he would hold close every survivor and every person who has been harmed—including those who’s harm and pain brought on convictions and incarceration rather than the healing they needed. I think He would spend His weekends in the visiting rooms of all the local prisons. And I think He would do other radical things and love and show grace in ways that I can’t even imagine because He would be a better prison abolitionist than all of us.
If Jesus were alive today, I also think He’d be a prison abolitionist. He will “rule with a rod of iron” which suggests He’s a whipping post kind of ruler. Send you to your room for a few years? Three-fourths of humanity will die just to pave the road for His return.
So let’s stop getting in the way. Let’s show grace, have mercy, and cherish redemption in the ways that Jesus taught us.
Conjugal visits with Jose?
Grainge started out by explaining where her Daddy Issues came from, justified her subsequent career and politics by identifying with unjustly punished criminals (not an oxymoron to her) and wrapped it together by claiming God would let murderers go free because He’s a forgiving sort of person. But the Crucifixion happened BECAUSE God cannot forgive evil. Especially unrepentant evil.
Christ’s story didn’t end at the Cross, Grainge. It’s fascinating how you Godless types never mention His resurrection, the other half of the Crucifixion story. Why not?
Because God didn’t stay dead like His enemies wanted Him to. You don’t love God, Grainge. You hate him and thus, love to celebrate His death. And ONLY His death.
By freeing Barabbas.