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Mon Aug 24, 2015, 01:51 PM

Criminal justice reformers await holy ally: Pope Francis

There’s a long history of religious leaders writing and teaching from inside prisons — from Martin Luther King to Paul the Apostle. But 78-year-old Pope Francis may be the most prominent religious leader to ever advocate for prison reform from the outside.

Last year, Francis called for an end to solitary confinement, the death penalty and life imprisonment. He has knelt down to wash and then kiss the feet of Roman inmates on two of the first Holy Thursdays of his papacy. Visiting a group of Bolivian prisoners recently, the pope told them he sees no difference between them and himself — they are all sinners.

Now Francis is coming to the United States, much to the delight of criminal justice reformers who have waged a growing bipartisan battle to scale back and remake the mammoth U.S. penal system. Reformers hope Francis’ visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia next month as part of his six-day U.S. tour will grab lawmakers’ attention. A few days before visiting the inner-city prison, the pope will address Congress and could raise the issue of criminal justice reform there as well.

One in three Americans today has a criminal record, and the United States remains the largest jailer in the world, thanks in part to lengthy sentences for drug crimes. These bleak statistics have led many Republicans and Democrats — including most of the candidates for president — to question the current system. Yet despite broad bipartisan support that has joined unlikely allies such as the Koch brothers and President Obama, major legislative proposals have stalled in Congress. A big spotlight from this rock-star-like pope could give the issue a boost.

In a speech to penal-law representatives from around the world in October 2014, the pope laid out his vision for criminal justice reform. He called for an end to solitary confinement, which he compared to torture, and spoke out against pre-trial detention. (The U.S. sends thousands of people to prison each year because they cannot afford bail.) "


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Reply Criminal justice reformers await holy ally: Pope Francis (Original post)
damnedifIknow Aug 2015 OP
MellowDem Aug 2015 #1
damnedifIknow Aug 2015 #2

Response to damnedifIknow (Original post)

Mon Aug 24, 2015, 01:54 PM

1. A homophobic, misogynistic bigot...

as an ally for criminal justice reform? Too bad religion still has such power that such terrible allies are needed.

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Response to MellowDem (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 24, 2015, 01:58 PM

2. I know but reform is badly needed

If the Pope can give this issue a boost then I say boost away.

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