Inmates aren’t humans, they’re criminals…


The article exposes examples of neglect and abuse that have taken place in Arizona’s prison system. Please read the article. What follows are my thoughts, written just after reading it myself.

Absolutely disgusting… makes me sick.
That’s how easy it is to neglect prisoners. Society really doesn’t care that much… and those that run the prison system know it. Let’s face the facts. The reason this sort of treatment is tolerated (and believe me it happens far more than you’d ever imagine) is because most of our society is just happy to have criminals out of the way, out of our frame of vision- so that we hardly ever have to remember that such things as prisons and inmates exist- that we might actually be called to minister to them; that we might be obligated to remember their humanity.

“Not in my backyard.”

As long as inmates are out of sight, they’re out of mind. That’s our society’s general disposition towards convicts. God forbid we have to face these people on any regular basis; God forbid we have to look into their all too human eyes, or learn of their all too human stories. God forbid we come to the terrifying reality that they are just like you and me; they too have sinned, and they too have been wayward children of God.

They aren’t humans, they’re criminals.

This is the grand belief that convicts are actually different from you and I. It’s the deluded and desperate belief that they are worse than we are because they are behind bars. This belief is all too common, and I’m here to remind you (and myself) that it isn’t Christian to believe and behave this way.

You see, dear reader, this is the great pretension… and we all are guilty of it. We really think that we aren’t as sinful as the men and women behind bars. I mean, just look at them! They LOOK like criminals! It’s so easy to write them off, so easy to compare ourselves to them and think with some smug pride, “well, at least I’m not a _____________ .”

This is why Christ himself and the Saints that have followed Him are so adamant that we have but one comparison to make: how do our lives match up against Jesus; how does our righteousness compare to God’s righteousness?

Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow-servants: then pride will be impossible.
– Charles Spurgeon

Notice we are not called to compare ourselves to our neighbor, and especially we are not called to compare ourselves to those we deem as less moral than we are. It’s been said that pride is perhaps the human trait that we most vociferously cling to. And here, in this case of prison neglect and abuse of inmates, we see it all too well.

In our pride we’ve discarded our fellow humans, our fellow sinners, our fellow penatents, our brothers and sisters in Christ, because we not only can’t be bothered by the problems associated with their criminal actions, but because we get some deep, insidious contentment in believing ourselves to be above those miserable convicts.

This is why prison ministry is so important, dear reader.

“You can judge a society by how it treats its prisoners.”
– Dostoyevsky

…. our society allows the abortion of babies and dehumanizes prisoners every single day….

Lord, God, help us.

“I tremble in fear for my country when I reflect that God is just.”
– Thomas Jefferson.


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