This section includes
articles with themes that include the death penalty, prisons & jails,
restorative justice, political prisoners, and related topics.
The phrase “restorative justice” is
popular among advocates for criminal justice reform, but Rima Vesely-Flad
finds it lacking. She argues that formerly incarcerated persons are being
discriminated against, denying both their humanity and access to work.
February 2002 issue of The Witness magazine
a Culture of Punishment
Criminal justice activists have long maintained that a
xenophobic, punitive mindset permeates the U.S. understanding
of law and order. This issue probes that claim in light of the realities
of the nations rapidly growing prison-industrial complex. Feature
articles include interviews with Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center
for Human Rights and Bishop Herbert Thompson, who spoke out following
the shooting of an African-American teenager in his city, and a focus
on faith-based death penalty campaigns.
African-Americans were denied the ability to vote
in the 2000 presidential election by the thousands, some legally but many
illegally. Citing the biblical words of the prophet Jeremiah, Rima Vesely-Flad
seeks a way for blacks to reclaim their political rights. [posted 10/14/04]
Last year, Lin Walton's Florida vacation was violently
interrupted when a naked teenager broke down his front door. Based on
that incident and his experience with the capture of a suspect, he has
serious questions about our criminal justice system. [posted 7/15/04]
The California Youth Authority is the largest system
of its kind in the U.S., housing over 4,000 young people. Nicole Lee says
it's also the worst such system, featuring violent physical and psychological
abuse and a pathetic recidivism rate of 91%. [posted 5/20/04]
Human rights abuses in Iraq and the U.S. motivate
Mitsuye Yamada to revise a poem she wrote years ago to women political
prisoners. “To drown out the silence/ I fill my inner ear with robinsongs/
human screeches and scrapes.” [posted 5/19/04]
The Week of Christian Unity just ended, and with
Christians increasingly divided along political lines, unity seems far
off. Chris Chivers finds hope, however, in a London worship service that
brought together hundreds of victims and perpetrators of violence. The
gathering served proof that transformation and reconciliation are still
possible. [posted 2/5/04]
a Strategy for the Solomons
The Solomon Islands are once again enveloped in political
chaos and violence. Terry Brown, Anglican Bishop of Malaita, provides
a less tabloid-like perspective of the situation than the Western medias,
while calling on Australia & New Zealand to intervene. [posted 7/22/03]
More People Up
The U.K. now "leads" Europe in one statistic:
locking up people in prison. Peter Selby, the "Bishop to Prisons
in England and Wales," offers a sobering report on Britains
criminal justice system. [posted 7/22/03]
Many Immigrants Must You Imprison to Turn a Profit?
The private prison industry has grown exponentially
in the past two decades, but recently their growth has stalled. May Va
Lor reports that these politically opportunistic corporations have seized
onto anti-immigrant sentiments as a way to sustain their profit margins.
on Trial in South Africa
Africas "Peoples Poet," the award-winning Mzwakhe Mbuli, is
in prison on a bank robbery conviction. In an era of "truth and reconciliation,"
Tom Anthony sharply questions the states case against Mbuli.
Worth My First Arrest
leads to your first participation in civil disobedience? Attending a protest
against proposed oil drilling in Alaska, Sally Bingham was moved to stand
up by kneeling down for what she believes.
Whom the Bells Toll: A New National Death Penalty Project
a few months, a Catholic nun has organized a grassroots nationwide campaign
of religious institutions on capital punishment. Dorothy Briggs tells
her story, and invites your community to join this simple yet powerful
Reflections on Mordechai Vanunu and Samuel Day
on the diverse meanings of "Jubilee 2000," Middle East advocate Patti
Browning honors Israeli nuclear protester Mordechai Vanunu and the deceased
activist Sam Day.
McVeigh: Capital Punishment and the Horror of Oklahoma City
execution of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh has created
a media circus, but who is addressing the moral & ethical issues involved?
John Chane argues that theologically, we, too, have become murderers.
Failure of Retributive Justice
death penalty is seen by many as a deterrent to violent crime. Taking
his cue from a South African justice activist, Michael Phillips instead
sees it as one more element in an endless cycle of violence.