What would it mean for the criminal justice system to be unjust? And if it is, what should Christians do about it? Dominique Gilliard, author of “Rethinking Incarceration,” talks with Amy Julia about the history of injustice in this system, reimagining justice, punishment, and reconciliation in light of the gospel, and practical ways the church can love people who have been incarcerated.
Dominique DuBois Gilliard is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). His book “Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores” won the 2018 Book of the Year Award for InterVarsity Press.
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“Restorative justice says that for justice to be made manifest, there has to be a tangible pathway toward restoration for not only the person who has suffered from the offense but also the person who has caused the offense.”
“Do we really believe the things that we proclaim in our congregational spaces, and, if so, how does that inform how we vote, how we live, how we engage in the world at large?”
“Nobody is beyond redemption....the Spirit who has the ability to bring life out of death has the ability to bring restoration out of people who have caused offenses.”
“When we understand that privilege is something for us to steward, then that liberates us from feeling immobilized by it. It liberates us from actually denying it. We can affirm privilege is real and that we have a responsibility to steward it in a way that furthers the kingdom and loves our neighbor.”
On the Podcast:
Thank you to Breaking Ground, the co-host for this podcast.
White Picket Fences, Season 3 of Love is Stronger Than Fear, is based on my book White Picket Fences, and today we are talking about Privilege Walk. Check out free RESOURCES—action guide, discussion guides—that are designed to help you respond. Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
Note: This transcript is generated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Amy Julia Becker and this is love is stronger than Fear a podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of social division. Today, I get to talk with Dominique Gilliard about his book. Rethinking Incarceration, I'm sure many of you who are like me and you have in recent years, been paying attention to the debates that around policing and mass incarceration and criminal justice. And if that's the case, you will want to listen to this episode, I have read a number of books about this topic.
I've read the new Jim Crow. I recently watched and had previously read the book Just Mercy, which is really beautiful and powerful and convicting. I also just finished reading. The sun does shine, which is a memoir. It's a true story of Ray Hinton, who was sent to death row for 30 years for three murders that he did not commit. I am all the more compelled by arguments that our criminal justice system does not actually result in justice. For many people.
1 (1m 5s):
I'm also convicted by how far removed these issues seem to be from my everyday life. So I'm really grateful to Dominique for offering his time to talk with me today about how I, and we can think about Justice I guess today is Dominique Gilliard. He is the author of Rethinking Incarceration Advocating for Justice that Restores and I just had a chance to reread this book. I'm really grateful that I did.
1 (1m 36s):
And I'm really grateful, Dominique, that you are here with us today. Welcome. And thanks for having me excited to be on you are also the director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church is that correct? That is correct. That's the denomination that I am a member of. So I'm really glad that we're here together today. And they're really so many things that I would love to talk about. As I said, I just reread your book. And what I was really struck by this time was that it's a combination of lots of factual information, both about our history and our current situation and when it comes to Incarceration, but then you also have this whole section, where are you tackled to the theology of Justice and punishment and tie all of these things together in under 200 pages, how you did that is awesome.
1 (2m 30s):
But what are the things that I was struck by? You make mention a couple of different places along the way in the book that you have been really personally concerned about justice and specifically about Incarceration for a long time and the way that we kind of handle crime and punishment in America. And so I just want to hear your story a little bit, like, how did this issue come to be the longing of your heart? Like the calling on your life to really understand and advocate in this area? Yeah, so like
2 (3m 0s):
A lot of folks, particularly African yeah, Americans, I grew up in a neighborhood where there weren't, you know, fathers, brothers, cousins around oftentimes, and, you know, it was something that was spelled, but really struggled to find language for it. Then I'm Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow came out, I read it and I was like, Oh, this is what's been happening. This is why we see kinda this disappearance of black men.
2 (3m 33s):
And, you know, that gave me language, but I really personally got connected to the issue as a call upon my life, my senior year in undergrad, I talk about the story in the book, but there was stigmatized neighbourhood that was about 10 miles away from our college campus. And because of its, and it was a stigmatized for drug trafficking, it was were a lot of the drugs proliferating throughout the entire city of Atlanta.
2 (4m 4s):
And because of that, there were a law enforcement who were deployed there to kind of do stakeouts to try to discern where the epicenter of drug trafficking was. And so I'm in the midst of some of the steak house, when an officer said that he had discerned where the epicenter was. And so he went to a judge and petition for something known as a no knock warrant, which is a piece of legislation that allows law enforcement and beta premise without having to stop announcing their presence as law enforcement or a display, a warrant, people were going inside, which that would have to do in any other circumstance, a disproportionately, you know, not cormorants are given out in a association well and impoverished communities of color.
2 (4m 47s):
And they're giving out most explicitly in association with drug searches. Mmm. So the judge petitioned that a game that no, not for warrant and a lot of the officer and two other officers came back to the house in which he, it says the epicenter for drug trafficking was flowing from and they preformed something known as a dramatic entry raid. And when they performed the dramatic entry rate, traditionally that's when SWAT teams come with a little military grade armory in weaponry and they bulldozed a door with shotguns drawn I'm in.
2 (5m 24s):
They usually do it earlier in the morning. So everybody has been hearing the name, Brianna Taylor recently, she was killed in the midst of a no, not for him being executed. So in this case, though, the officers did this and they performed a search at three o'clock in the morning and the home that they invaded with solely occupied by at 92 year old grandmother, by the name of Kathryn Johnston who heard the commotion, thought someone was trying to break into our house.
2 (5m 55s):
So she goes to try to grab officers say, they think that she's trying to flee the scene. They deployed 38 bullets and federally strike her five times in her living room. As she bleeds out, the officers proceed with the search for drugs. And let me just explain this piece real quick is important. No knock warrants. One of the reasons why they exist is because when it comes to drug searches, it's very easy for people to be able to flush down, flush drugs and drug paraphernalia down the toilet.
2 (6m 29s):
So the logic is that officer's need to be able to get in quickly seize the evidence before it can be destroyed. And so in this case, as a Kathryn, Justin has bleeding out, the officers continued to conduct the search for drugs and drug paraphernalia, but the search, it turns up empty. Ah, there is no drugs, no drug paraphernalia, even though this is the home there, the officer had identified at the epicenter for a drug trafficking. Mmm. So when the search terms of the Mt, the three officer's who conducted the search are like left wondering like, OK, how do we are legitimate?
2 (7m 4s):
What just transpired? Mmm. So unfortunately they craft a narrative early that morning in her living room and then make the more unfortunate choice to actually plant drugs or at our house to make it look like it was a batch drug grade. When the case goes to trial, the officer's stick to the narrative that they can post there early morning in Kathryn Justice living room. And they stick with it all throughout the court proceedings until they find out that they're called in their life. And at that point, they confess to everything.
2 (7m 36s):
They confessed to killing her without, because they confessed the planting drugs in her house. And the first officer is found to have fabricated evidence that he presented to the judge to get the no knock warrant that legitimated the whole interaction. When sentencing came down, after all of that confession, the three officers were sentenced from a range of five to 10 years, which is a fraction of the time the Kathryn and Justin would have gotten if she actually would have been involved in drug trafficking in there and arrested for the defendants.
2 (8m 7s):
So at that point, I knew that there was something critically wrong with our criminal justice system. And the next day when I went to school, my professors were saying, as concerned citizens, we had an ethical and moral responsibility to go advocate for legislative change. So that vulnerable people in vulnerable communities like Kathryn Justice and continue to be systemically prayed upon like this. And I said, yes, that feels right. That feels good. That feels true. And my church, instead of being 10 miles away for more of this happened was 15 miles away from where it happened.
2 (8m 40s):
And when I went to church on Sunday, it had absolutely nothing to say about it. And I couldn't make sense of the fact that only my academic institution was calling me to be involved in addressing a systemic problem that was not only in this community, but nationwide and my church. I actually had nothing to say about it. And I said, if there's anything that should be compelling me to stand up or the vulnerable, or the least of these in those who are having their humanity kind of infringed upon, it should be my relationship with Jesus Christ and not just my academic institution.
2 (9m 15s):
So from that point on, can I really, I just felt like God, I kept the issue or my heart and mind, and really was disturbing my soul around the church's silence and the pace of, of an unprecedented moment, because at this moment, this is right around the time where the U S had a CICD at any country in the history of the world in regards to his incarceration rates. And so one of the things I talk about in the book is the fact that, you know, we have, we, are we, the, the common statistics issues is that the U S represents 5% of the world's population, but 25% of is incarcerated population.
2 (9m 57s):
But even more than that, a we incarcerate more people than any country in the history of the world. And given that reality, the church is silence spoke volumes. And so I really felt a call from a guide to really help the church. I will wake into the Mo watershed moment we were in and to help us to realize how our theology played a role in the construction and the suspension of mass incarceration. And if we we're going to wake up and be part of the solution, as opposed to helping to repurpose you, wait the problem, then we have to start to have some different time in the conversations, theologically and biblically.
1 (10m 36s):
Yeah. Well, thank you for the work you've done in that area. I'd love. I feel like I'm starting with the basics would be good. I know it's been good for me as someone I grew up in a different situation than you did, where I was not noticing the absence of fathers and cousins and brothers. Right. And so I didn't see what you saw as a kid. And so I've had too, as an adult, really educate myself about what's going on and I'd love to hear from you. Just what, you know, what is the current situation who is incarcerated?
1 (11m 8s):
How long are they there? Why are they their just in broad strokes? What is the situation that we're looking at as a nation?
2 (11m 16s):
Yeah. So I'd talk about, there are five pipeline's that are really funneling people into the criminal justice system. Today, there are two that are pretty common, the war on drugs and the school to prison pipeline, but to other a, there are three others that are less commonly spoken about, which is the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities, the privatization of prisons and how lucrative private prisons have become. And then finally there is a war that's being waged, disappear a little war to the war on drugs.
2 (11m 51s):
It just hadn't been coined as a war. And then as the war on immigration. And so I can give you a little bit of detail about each of those. So when we talk about the war on drugs, we have to realize that we now have police chief's of major cities who've come out and bluntly says the war on drugs. If it was an utter failure, because you can't incarcerate yourself out of addiction. And so what we're seeing is people who have substance abuse, addiction issues who need medical interventions and not Incarceration, there are actually been certain city's who actually have said that they're no longer incarcerating people who get a, when they get calls four person who is obviously drug dependent and they're rolling them in substance abuse programs, as opposed to incarcerating them.
2 (12m 43s):
Or we talked about the school to prison pipeline. What we're talking about really is a philosophical shift in how we respond to juvenile misbehavior, a in schools. Mmm. So the things that you and I Amy would have gotten, you know, detention for our in school suspension for children are now getting out of school suspension, expelled, and arrested in school. And we see 'em when we talk about this, a lot of people stay with it kind of What what are some of the marker's?
2 (13m 15s):
Well, what are the important things to know is that the national education policy center found that 95% of the students who are arrested on school property are arrested for nonviolent offenses. So that's really critically important because when you think about it, risk in schools, I'm thinkin about people who are committing heinous, like, you know, the very violent activity that is putting other kids in really at risk, but that's not really what we're talking about. And when we talk about what the school to prison pipeline represents, I really talk about it as kind of this pipeline where schools who are economically strapped have to make a choice between what if they want to invest in things that are gonna actually a move.
2 (14m 5s):
There are students tours kind of educational and vocational flourishing, or if they want to kind of afford. And by the safety and security of the school by and employing school resource officers, So to give you a example of this, what this looks like currently in our nation, 1.7 million students are in school is what beliefs, but no counselors, 3 million students are in schools with police, but no nurses, 6 million students are in school is with police, but no school, a psychiatrist and 10 million students in our nation are currently in schools with police, but no social workers.
2 (14m 43s):
Wow. And so in this kind of school to prison pipeline, I talk about it as being the well worn path of predominantly impoverished, urban youth of color from decrepit under funded, antiquated schools' to luxurious earmarks state of the art prison. And if we were just honest, there was being a choice and the investment choice being made for some students
1 (15m 8s):
I've been on again, the more affluent side of the school system in our nation, and I've known plenty of kids, who've made bad choices about their behavior, right? Whether that's like cheating on tests or acting out against an adult or selling drugs, I have been plenty of kids who have sold drugs. But what I have noticed is just that for these kids, big get caught, they get in trouble On but it is. And you write about this a little bit. It is handled in within the community of the school and their parents like that's owl, because they're kids, they are making dumb decisions sometimes.
1 (15m 46s):
And then they get a chance to correct that. And occasionally they are even expelled, but again, the, the police are not involved. I mean, that's not who needs to be brought in and to bear on the situation. All right. You mentioned three other less known pipelines, immigration, and the wealth that is coming out of running prisons, as well as what am I missing? Mental health. Mental health.
2 (16m 13s):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So when we talk about the deinstitutionalization of mental health facilities and our nation, what we need to realize is that right now, in our nation 40 for space, plus the district of Columbia have more people with severely diagnosed, mental health impairments, who are locked up in the state's largest carceral facility, then who are receiving treatment and in the state's largest psychiatric facility, this problem is so bad that seven years ago, medical professionals and the mental health field bluntly said that prisons are the new asylums.
2 (16m 49s):
We are warehousing men and women who has severe cognitive impairments behind bars, instead of giving them the metaphor interventions that they need. This problem is so bad that literally every single year of 90,000 people, our, a constant, legally constituted as incompetent to stand trial, which means they don't even have the mental capacities to understand why they're standing in front of a judge. And instead of giving them the medical interventions, they need, we incarcerate them and exploit them for their labor.
2 (17m 23s):
When we talk about the di is a, well, we talked about private prisons where you need to understand that our private prisons, I have become a lucrative industry right after the last presidential election, it was predicted that private prisons will be one of the top five, most lucrative and severe, a secure investments that a person can make on the stock stock market. Wow. One of the things that people don't understand is that private prisons is one of the highest bought and sold stock on wall street.
2 (17m 60s):
Within the last five years, it is ranked in a consistently ranked in one of the top 10 most bought and sold stock on wall street. And it's directly connected to, for the last pipeline, which is the war on immigration, because a 73% have people who are incarcerated for immigration offenses are housed within private prisons. In 2010, there was an immigration bed mandate that was introduced by a Democrat.
2 (18m 31s):
And I think that's important because sometimes we can get into this partisan politics that we can start to say, Oh, well, these are just a Republican agenda or a democratic agenda. Mass incarceration is a bipartisan agenda. Both parties have used a fear based rhetoric to advance individual politicians career's, but also a political party's agenda. And this immigration bed mandate was introduced by a Democrat by the name of Robert Bert.
2 (19m 3s):
And it said that Congreso, it was a congressional directive that mandates that ice immigration enforcement detains on average 34,000 people Knightly for immigration offenses. And so how have a piece of legislation liked that has been on the books for over a decade is beyond me, but it really speaks into a kind of private prison.
1 (19m 28s):
So what I wanted to ask you, you mentioned when you were mentioning the mental health pipeline, the free labor, and one of the things that I'm trying to do this episode and the Season of this podcast is to look at history and to look at the way that understanding our history helps us to understand our current moment and, and really the way that even when we look back at hard aspects of our history and Unjust, aspect's, it still gives us, umm, a way to go through truth-telling to freedom and healing Wright.
1 (20m 4s):
And I think for a lot of Americans, myself included, we can ignore or deny the history and the current reality of Incarceration because of its faraway. It's those other people, its not close to me, but I think if we better understand our history and are present moment, we can see how this actually is affecting all of us and our whole culture. So one of the troubling aspects of our history that you write about that Michelle Alexander writes about when I was down in Montgomery at the equal justice initiative came up and it really it's the 13th amendment, which is somewhat ironic because if you could just explain what the 13th amendment is and why that is actually related to Incarceration, it should be, I think of it as an amendment related to freedom, but it's also an amendment related to incarceration.
1 (20m 56s):
So I'd love for you to just explain what that is and also talk about how that affects our prison systems.
2 (21m 3s):
Yeah. So the 13th amendment really kind of brought it in to the triangular slave trade and that's not the way that we're taught in schools. So we're taught that the 13th amendment ended slavery and then in the U S but that's not actually true because there's a loophole and the 13th amendment, which says that slavery and our nation is a legal except as a punishment for crime. And so still to this day, we allow slavery to take place in our country, constitutionally.
2 (21m 36s):
And this is really important because in 1865, when the triangular slave trade was brought to there and through their master patient proclamation, there was a 12 year period of what we essentially call a black empowerment, ah, through the reconstruction error when federal troops who were sent down and to the South to makes sure that black people wasn't going to be stymied and their pursuit for a equity and a freedom injustice. And over the course of time, it's really important to realize that in 1865, it was illegal to teach a black person in the South to read or to write 12 years later when the reconstruction era comes to close 1400 black people are successfully holding political office throughout the region.
2 (22m 24s):
Right now. I want you to think about that 12 years before they couldn't even read or write 12 years later, 1400 are successfully holding political office and is critically important because it helps us to realize it's never been a question about black ability. It's always been a question about black access when black folk we have been, we have, we're given an equitable access. We saw in the black community to thrive and we saw a racial justice or becoming a reality and a region that people had never thought that it was fully manifest is. So, yeah. So is really important for us to try to understand that, but we also need to understand why that era came to an end.
2 (23m 0s):
Well, most of us kinda have been taught at, but not explicitly in this way, the reconstruction comes too in because of the hay. He still didn't compromise, which is a back door agreement were in exchange for taking, removing federal truth from the South. Boat's are given to us inform the outcomes of a presidential election, right? Umm, and at that moment they are really is this mad dash to re articulate white supremacy throughout the region where all of these white folk who have been p****d off at the fact that they've had to live on equal terms with people who are 12 years prior, we are just they're slaves.
2 (23m 37s):
Mmm. So there is really this outrace that goes on. And so I talk about how kinda there are real articulation, a white supremacy manifest and what I call
3 (23m 46s):
In and Holy Trinity, which is the, a, the evolution of, of sharecropping, which most people have heard about. And then there is an articulation of these group of laws called black codes, which were literally laws that were taken from slave codes and reinterpreted. So they can be reapplied. Now that the UMass to a patient proclamation has been implemented. And then you have the emergence of the clan and the terrorist of practice of lunching
1 (24m 18s):
Dominique in Rethinking Incarceration you use to different words to describe two different types of Justice. So you talk about retributive justice and restorative justice. I would love for you to explain the difference between those two ideas and maybe give a picture of what they might look like in action, because I found that really helpful. So just for listeners who aren't having heard this before, a retributive justice is different from restorative justice. And could you just explain that to us?
3 (24m 47s):
Yeah. So when we think about a retributive justice, we are really talking about the idea of injustice that someone has to pay for what they've done in a manner that oftentimes doesn't factor in restoration. And so for the, in that paradigm, often times Justice is equal to punishment. And the corrective for the offence that has happened is the punishment itself doesn't have a tangible pathway for restoration of the thing that has been broken are the relationships that has been broken of the community.
3 (25m 35s):
That's been impaired by the fence where restorative justice says that for Justice to be made manifest their has to be tangible pathway towards restoration per not only the person has been offended. I mean, if the person who's been at the house suffered from the offence, but also the person who has caused a fence and saw a restorative justice really is Justice that says that Justice is actually manifested within the community itself is reconciled after the offense has taken place.
3 (26m 8s):
And so some people misinterpret that as being soft on crime. And so, but we know what the problem with our pregnant System in regards to our, one of the problems in regards to retributive justice is that retributive justice actually doesn't allow the person who's been impacted by the fence that actually speak into what accountability looks like four or What restoration and reconciliation look like.
3 (26m 40s):
Okay. So the person whose actually been directly up in itself se in the case that you were robbed Amy in our presence. System if you are the one who is robbed, you're the one who had taken from you. You are the one who has to try to kinda put the pieces together after the offence, you actually get in muted by her criminal justice system. And they say what you want, what you desire in, how you feel about the offense has no bearing on what ultimately is going to happen in the courtroom where restorative justice says that if you are the person who is directly impacted and the person who committed the, you need to have an opportunity if you are already.
3 (27m 20s):
And if you're in a mental state where you desire this, to be able to meet with the person who caused the offense, speak directly into their life, to help them to understand the magnitude of their bids and how it has impacted, not just you, but other people around you. And then you get to work with an outside consultant. Who's facilitating the process to construct a group of people who are going to come together and discern what accountability looks like, what a tone mint for the Fences looks like.
3 (27m 51s):
And what does healthy reintegration for this individual look like? So it is a staggered process in which you, as the person has been impacted by the offense, you have to speak into the entire process and a very profound way, but also the person who has caused the offense gets to have people who are committed to walking alongside of them. Because what we found is that when a person is caused by a violation and they don't have any kind of community support, as they try to think about what being accountable for their Fences looks like, what it looks like to make a men's for their offense, and then ultimately to have a vision for what does it mean to be restored to the broader community?
3 (28m 33s):
I'm that person is going to be impoverished in their ability to do those things. If they don't have someone who's dedicated to walking alongside of them, supporting them, helping them have clarity around what they've done and how they try to repair the damage that they've done.
1 (28m 49s):
It sounds like from how you're talking, there are places where this is actually happening yet. So is that within our criminal justice system, there are places that are trying or opting like you have the option of restorative justice. How does that work?
3 (29m 2s):
Yeah. So this is happening on multiple levels. So this is happening well internationally, this how the process has been tried and true, it was implemented in post-apartheid context. It was also implementing a Rio de Janeiro to help eliminate the need for their juvenile justice system, because this was so effective. This has implemented thoroughly throughout in the U S throughout many major cities in regards to trying to curb the, the tide of the school to prison pipeline.
3 (29m 38s):
And their has been, there was a grant given out a three years ago to tin a major cities, two start to try to implement restorative justice as a corrective way to STEM the tide of kind of Incarceration and look at alternatives to a long, you know, ridiculous sentencing in regards to so Chicago is actually one of the cities where there was a, where I live is one of the cities where there was a grant given out, particularly in a community in North Lawndale.
3 (30m 14s):
So North Lawndale is one of the more stigmatized communities in Chicago, higher poverty rates, higher rates of the school, dropouts, those kinds of things to give you people a little context on what I'm talking about when I talk about North Lawndale. So there was a study done a few years ago. It was the first eLog. It is a study done on the communal impact, the mass incarceration in a major city like Chicago. And so what they wanted to do is they wanted to see how many single city blocks within the city had over a million dollars worth of investment in incarcerating residents from this single city block.
3 (30m 52s):
Hmm. So say it again. If you take it from one single black, theirs, over a million dollars worth of money invested in incarcerating residence from that one single single city block. And they wanted me to see how many, what they called a million dollar black Chicago has a lot. Chicago has $851 million blocks, and they are all located on the South end, the West side in the city wear black and Brown people disproportionately live. There's not one single million dollar black in the heart, in the loop.
3 (31m 25s):
What we call it here in Chicago on the North side of the city, which is much more affluent and diverse, but in a, the lower socioeconomic communities where there's, Racial Racial siloing and the South and the West side, you have 851, a million dollar blocks. So Lawndale North Lawndale is one of those $851 million blacks. So this was part of the reason why this was strategically given two, that community to try to figure out there are healthier alternatives to are present a manifestation of criminal justice and this, and in this context, what they've chosen to do, cause there's a little latitude on how they choose to implement with the grant.
3 (32m 9s):
What they've chosen to do is that they've chosen to only hear cases where there's a juvenile involved or someone, a, a juvenile who is involved for violent crime to try and figure out if they're is a way for them to create alternatives, to incarceration through a restorative justice model. So that these individuals records aren't forever, March by an offence that they made before they were actually have a legal age. And so I've been able to be in contact the director of the program.
3 (32m 41s):
And he's actually saying that is actually having a really, really successful outcomes. And when they have to have the grant reassess to see it, they want to expand it out to other cities. He says that he's enthusiastically gonna recommend that that'd be the case.
1 (32m 58s):
It sounds like that as you were saying, it's certainly great for the kids who don't get on that school to prison pipeline, but it also is good both in terms of the ethos of the community, but even just on this pragmatic financial level, this is actually good for the whole community. You, if you're not spending money on incarcerating people, but on restoring relationships and building up a community, you can just imagine what that actually could lead to in terms of more E yes, the individual staying in their family, staying in school, staying in community, but you can imagine the ripple effects being pretty significant.
3 (33m 35s):
Yeah. And restorative, a restorative justice approach has been proven to be more likely to produce. Reconciliation just because of the fact that the person has been offended, gets a chance to speak directly to the person who has caused the offense and to help them to understand the depth and the breadth of what their offense has meant for not only them and their community. And so I think for me, the proof that is more likely to produce Reconciliation the proofs that the person has been victimized as is actually more likely to actually feel satisfied through a pro a restorative justice approach versus a retributive justice approach.
3 (34m 15s):
And the fact that we've been able to see the fruit of this in regards to how people who have been in an integrated in this approach have been able to successfully reintegrate into their community. But then lastly, I also say it, there's also data that shows that people during their Incarceration stint, who participated in the restorative justice approach of actually been found to be a more constructive in their time incarcerated. They have a more connection to the outside world, which incentivizes them to be more accountable to the reform that they're supposed to be engaging in behind bars.
3 (34m 55s):
And actually it gives them something really to look forward too, in regards to doing what they do and the work that they need to do on inside. So they can be healthy, productive, contributing citizens when they return back to the community.
1 (35m 8s):
That all makes sense, but I'm, it is a different way to think about it. And there was another piece of your book that was really helpful for me, just in kind of defining terms and thinking differently. And that was the distinction that you said scholars make between distributive justice and corrective justice. And so again, I just thought I'd love to have you define those terms and also talk about how they relate to each other. It seems to me that we are talking a lot about corrective Justice as a, but not about distributive justice, but I'd love to hear what those are, how they relate to each other and how they relate to this conversation of Rethinking Incarceration.
3 (35m 48s):
Yeah. So distributive justice really focuses on how material possessions and Resources are justly distributed in society between individuals and groups and corrective Justice is kinda really again, well, we talk about when we say criminal justice, when we look at crime and lawlessness and how they both are identified and dealt with. So I wanted to kind of contextualize this again for what we were just talking about with the million dollar blocks here in Chicago. Yeah. So with a million dollar black here in Chicago, the 851 of them that exist, they found that they were actually hallmark, that has nine white neighborhoods.
3 (36m 27s):
We have high rates of unemployment school closures and the homes in foreclosure, but we're literally talking about the least of these. We're talking about people who have the least opportunity for an equitable education for jobs that pay a livable wage and a home stability in these contexts. Most oftentimes these are gonna be in neighborhoods where they're rentals and not at home ownership, which speaks into how schools are funded, which speaks into again, if we go back to what we talked a little bit about the school to prison pipeline, a, which goes back to the schools with this economic challenge who are forced to actually make a choice between, do they want to have a school psychiatrist or do they want to have a school resource officer where other schools, again, never have to make that choice because their not in the same economic quandary.
3 (37m 21s):
And so when we actually pair together those two manifestations of Justice, then we start to understand that distributed of justice and corrective justice are inherently intertwined. And the fact that people who have the least opportunities are going to be the ones who are most likely to find themselves and countering corrective justice and the criminal justice system. And so this goes back to a broader theology biblically about what we're talking about, the least of these and our responsibility to actually be able to take a sober look at society and see where systems and structures are set up in a way where it's going to produce a certain type of outcome.
3 (38m 3s):
Christians are the ones in the midst of kind of identifying those realities who are supposed to be the ones who actually go the extra mile and do things like glean and make sure that we actually keep enough resources for the broader community. Cause we know that its not all about us. And so like what are, what are our modern manifestations of gleaning in the middle of,
1 (38m 25s):
Will you actually, can I interrupt you? And just for anyone who doesn't know the reference, can you just talk about gleaning in its original context and then go on with what you were saying about how we do that today?
2 (38m 37s):
Yeah. And, and I post that question, not saying that I have the answer necessarily, but in the, in the,
3 (38m 45s):
In the old Testament there were laws, it was a great in society. And so there were a laws for people who own their own land and produce their own crops for them to actually have a responsibility when they, it gleaned out what they needed to make their hands for me to actually not continue to take all the crops off the trees, but to leave some of the crops for people in the community too, didn't own land and didn't have material access to be able to produce their own food and saw these would be people who would be equivalent to the homeless today in some ways, or, you know, people who are depending on food, a food shelter and you know, the homeless shelters and a food drive that the community does that it is it all whole Goodwill.
3 (39m 33s):
So Christians in the old Testament, we are actually commanded to actually do this as a fruit, have their own discipleship as part of their commitment and understanding of who God was. They were supposed to be, make connections between the excess and their life in a lack in their neighbor's life. And it was kind of mutual a dependency and the way in which you work together as a community. And so one of the quotes to kind of transition to a what this might look like minored day and comes from Krista for martial from the book I wanted to read this one, quote.
3 (40m 10s):
Yeah. He says, ah, it is vitally important are the two domains are not viewed in splendid isolation, especially when seeking to apply biblical insights and priority's to our contexts. How much of what the Bible says about social justice has direct prevalence to the chronic criminal justice domain. If we took more seriously, the biblical imperative to care for the poor and dispossessed to avoid the Unjust, the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a few and to set at Liberty, those who are oppressed by debt and exploitation, we would have less costs to employ criminal sanctions against those on the margins of the community who feel they have no stake in society.
3 (40m 56s):
And so I think this, this understanding that the two are inherently interconnected helps us to ask deeper questions around why we continue to see the disproportional outcomes that we do within our Chris criminal justice system. And especially in regards to race and class and mental and physical disabilities. So we're talking about people who exist on the fringes of society who are disproportionately ending up in our criminal justice system. And as Brian, Stevenson likes to say, we have a criminal justice system that works better for you.
3 (41m 29s):
If you're rich and guilty, then if you're poor in the innocent and that it's wealth, not Gilt that informs culpability within our presence system. And so I think that means that Christians really have to ask you a completely different set of questions around our criminal justice system and the disparities that we're seeing in it.
1 (41m 47s):
Yeah. And I think we probably don't have time to get into this, but I think the injustices, one of the things you're doing is saying we actually should reform the way we think about justice, but even under the terms already set within our justice system, there's a lot of injustice. So there's two degrees of reform. There is one which has just take the current system and actually do it justly. And then there is, let's actually think about the system differently, both when it comes to distributive justice and restorative justice.
1 (42m 18s):
So there's a lot to be done there. I do want to kind of start the, come to a close and asking about individual Christians and churches. So it kind of, Christians more collectively when it comes to these questions of Justice and Rethinking Incarceration what is your hope? What is your, whether it's kinda, you know, hear are the three top things you can do or even just a vision for more broadly, what Christians might do in order to engage these issues in a more, a biblical and hopeful and holistic way.
3 (42m 52s):
Yeah. So I'm going to send you a couple of followup resources that kinda you can attach to this that could be helpful, but there are a couple of things though. I'll get you to kind of policy wise things. One, I think we really need to fundamentally rethink how we think about the death penalty at the end of the day. You know, we gather when we use, we will use to be able to gather outside of this global pandemic gather every Sunday and we would preach sermon, sing songs and pray a prayer is thinking God that there is nothing that we can do that can separate us from the Love of our state.
3 (43m 28s):
So that regardless of what we do, God still runs to be in relationship with us. But then when we actually step outside of the church and we actually go home and we turned on the news and we hear kinda, this is very vitriolic language around a, the Fences that certain people have committed. Then we start to get swayed by some of that rhetoric. And then we ultimately go into the boating box and support things like the death penalty, which at the end of the day says that certain people are beyond redemption, right?
3 (44m 1s):
There are certain offenses that are so vile that all that we can do is put them to death. And that is kind of predicted what we just did in our worship services. And so I think Christians, we have to have, they have a real conversation and some internal dialogue around, do we really believe the things that we were crying and our congregational spaces? And if so, how does that inform how we vote, how we live, how we engage in the world at large. And so one, the real disconnects with that is that right now the latest poll that was taken says that A 67% have white evangelical Protestants that actually support the death penalty.
3 (44m 42s):
And so for me, I think a lot of people think about the death penalty as a political issue for Christians for me is first and foremost at the illogical issue, we either believe that no one is beyond redemption or we don't like we don't get to categorically say that it's that either. This is a true for it. It's not. And so I think some of those kinds of things, I think asking real questions about how young juveniles can be tried as an adult. So right now there are 13 States that have no age regulation around when a juvenile it can be tried as an adult.
3 (45m 16s):
And it just makes no sense. But the fact that we live in a nation where we say for you to be able to join the military, you have to be of a certain age for you to be able to drive. You have to be able to a certain day do all of these things. There is a mental ability that we say has to be in place before we even consider to access assessed you for this. But when it comes to crime, we've had people 10 years old in a little younger, try it as an adult, which means that what, the mistakes that they made when they didn't even have the full mental capacities to understand what they were doing or going to forever Mar their life for the rest of their life.
1 (45m 55s):
So you mentioned being put in a facility with true adults. Yeah. As far as what molds and shapes them. I mean, that's as the mother have a 12 year old boy and a nine year old girl, you know, it's like, I can't even imagine what injustice.
3 (46m 13s):
Yeah. And not to speak to that on the back end has been proven that juveniles who are incarcerated in adult facilities are more likely to be sexually assaulted and more likely to commit suicide because of the abuse they are subjected to you. But if they do make it out, people like me who worked with juveniles who have come out of the system, they will consistently tell you, I went into, Incarceration interested in petty crime. I came out a hardened criminal, the level of criminality that I was exposed to behind bars.
3 (46m 44s):
It's something that no child should be exposed to and high on forever change coming out of that system. Yeah. So those are just to policy things that I think that we really need to think more deeply about when it comes to what people can do. So I say, and I'll say, I'll actually send you this far more in depth. But I say that all churches should be involved and at least one are for ways to work for prevention. How do we keep people from getting in this system? And before that you can go, what are the signs on the wall that we know that this person is more likely to be caught up in this system?
3 (47m 22s):
And how do we intervene? How will we see those signs on the wall? The second one is ministry to the incarcerated. I mean, Matthew 25, we're all supposed to be doing that. A third is walking alongside a family's with incarcerated loved ones. Oftentimes I think we, we think about the incarcerated, but we don't think we're all about the family members who are trying to adjust the life. Now that mom, dad, brother, sister, cousin, is not in the family anymore. Particularly if the person who's incarcerated was a primary breadwinner for the home.
3 (47m 55s):
And now they're trying to figure out how do they make ends meet without that person. And then
2 (47m 60s):
On the other, the last thing is a,
3 (48m 2s):
So the work of re-entry, how do we walk with people who are coming out a system, but also how do we do some of the work for our brothers and sisters who we know are going to be coming out of the system before they even get out of this system so that when they come out, we've already got a, a pathway for them to try to navigate the complexities of trying to live and exist in the world with this Scarlet letter of Incarceration, particularly for brothers and sisters who have a felony conviction, but I'll leave. You have to, with these last couple, I want to, I did an interview with Brian Stevenson about his film.
3 (48m 38s):
Just Mercy, he's an adaption of His book. And I asked him what were his hopes for the moving in regards to the Church? And so I wanted to leave you with his two paragraphs from him, cause they would very much echo, echo my hopes. He says that I hope it causes us to talk more about this need for redemption and grace to everyone. We can't be believers and be so hell hopeless about people who fall down life without parole is a hopeless sentence.
3 (49m 8s):
And we mother, and we imposed that sentence upon people who are drug addicted and direct dependent people who have made poor choices around money. There has to be more hopefulness in the way that we think about any person's ability to recover, to be redeemed. The second thing is that we need to see people of faith in spaces, where there is a lot of despair and anguish, where there is a lot of trauma and abuse. And I can't think of a place where that is more evident than in our jails and prisons.
3 (49m 41s):
I want to see people if they do get reengaged, the gospels talk about not only feeding the hungry and clothing and naked and providing shelter to the homeless, but also about going into the jails and prisons and standing with The the accused. And we haven't done that in the way that I think that we should be. And I hope it's still inspires a conversation that leads us into that place. And so that's really my hope for the book. I believe. I hope that the book causes us to really see some of the ways in which the church has conformed to the patterns on the logic.
3 (50m 18s):
So this world, because of some of the political propaganda and fear mongering that exist I'm that leads us declaim to very punitive responses to crime that our actually not restorative in are not in alignment with the gospel. And I hope that it causes us to realize that Nobody is beyond redemption at the end of the day. If we really believe that the spirit of God is the resurrection Spirit at work within us and within the body, the body of Christ and that that spirit that has the ability to bring life out of death has the ability to bring restoration out of the people who have caused the fences.
3 (51m 1s):
And those people can actually be redeployed into our communities as leaders who actually make our communities safer places, as opposed to people that we need to shun, to stigmatize and keep at arms length for the rest of their life. Brian Stevenson again, he said, he said this and that this house is really close with this. That was a very powerful statement. He said, we need more believers who believe this salt can become Pauls and who are interested in playing a role in their discipleship and their development to lead them into that kind of revelation.
3 (51m 33s):
The guy still has a mission, a purpose, but there are life and a desire to be in relationship with them. And so that's really what I hope my book helps the church to do, to reconsider what is our role in helping the saws of the world become pause, and to actually to look at our heart, pray the prayer, search me at a lower, see if there are any offensive ways and thoughts within me to see how we've been socialized, to think about incarcerated people, to the point that we actually don't really believe the SOLs become Paul's anymore because they do.
1 (52m 4s):
I think the witness to this All is becoming Paul's if we don't, we haven't in scripture and we'd got it. And so many places since then, one really final question for you truly. I know you're working on something new now.
3 (52m 17s):
Yeah. If you can give us a sneak peek. Yeah. So I got a new book coming out with Zondervan and August of 2021, and really I'm framing it in light of John, the Baptist, this call to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. So I think the way that we think about repentance right now, and a live in to repentance in many of our contexts is really reduced repentance down to oral confession and not an actual sober assessment of what's been done.
3 (52m 50s):
I actually turning away from stand and returning back to God. And because of that, I think thinks that we have never been in, we were never created to become adjusted too. We become well adjusted Two. And so I think there is the realities of systemic sin, institutional justice, and a corporate participation and things that are actually antithetical to the gospel that we've kind of become okay with. And when we try to have honest conversations about them within the Church, you know, it's gotten to the point where the same rhetoric that the rest of the world for it, it's a defensiveness around kinda some of these things, have they found common places within the body of Christ.
3 (53m 34s):
And so I really want to push the church to have a different conversation and particularly around something like Privilege, which I know that you've done a lot of work with. And so really what I wanted to help the church to do is right now, well, we have conversations about privilege within the body of Christ. They usually stop one of two places and you know, this people either deny that Privilege is real and it has nothing to do with gospel in them, or they affirm their privilege is real, but they say that they feel paralyzed by the weight of it. Well, I am making the argument in this book that the gospel officer's the third way.
3 (54m 8s):
And the third way is that it affirms their privilege is real. And it says that why we always have the opportunity to exploit Privilege for our selfish gain privilege should be just like anything else that where we understand that is something that we're called to steward. And when we understand Privilege is something that we're called to Stuart, then that actually liberates us from feeling and mobilized by it. It liberates us from actually having to try to deny it where we can affirm that Privilege is a real and say that we actually have a responsibility to the story in a way that further the kingdom and loves our neighbor.
3 (54m 45s):
And so that's the real core of the book, really raising up to seven different biblical examples of privilege, people who understood this call upon their life. Wow. And they lived intentionally in a way where they use their privilege to further the kingdom and love their neighbor.
1 (55m 1s):
We are gonna have to have you back on this podcast next August. That's so exciting. Thank you. Thank you for working on that. And I really can't wait to read it a and I will just say one more time, how much I appreciated Rethinking Incarceration I've read a lot of books and we talked about this before about justice and criminal justice, but this really did a great job of expanding the conversation. And specifically from a Christian perspective, giving me some theological tools to rethink the way I see.
1 (55m 34s):
Not only see it, but actually participate in not just this conversation, but the undoing of Unjust structures in our society. So thank you for your time. Thank you for writing this book for all of the other words that you're doing and for being here with us.
3 (55m 49s):
Yeah. Thanks for having me. And, you know, I really believe that, you know, through Rethinking Incarceration I was able to help the church have a different kind of conversation. But what I also realize was a while people are theologically, intellectually agreed, they did not know actually how to live it out. And so because of that, that is why I'm writing subversive, witness this next, Book the say it like, okay, this is how we actually do it. This is how we actually don't give a mobilized and paralyzed by the bigness of a system where we say like, what can I do?
3 (56m 25s):
But we actually just step up, show up and do our little part and then have us do our part. So that's how system is that structure start to top of him and be re-imagined in light of the gospel.
1 (56m 36s):
Amen to that. Thank you again. And we will hopefully talk before next August, but definitely when, when that book comes out. So thank you. Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. We will be sure to note all those references. I would love for you as always to share this episode, subscribe to this podcast and give it a quick rating or review wherever you find your podcast. So that even more people can benefit from these conversations.
1 (57m 6s):
Next week, I'll be talking with Paul Miller author of many books about bringing Christianity into everyday. Life will be talking about wealth and comfort and privilege and suffering and disability and living into the joy of the resurrection. I hope you will be able to join us. I want to thank our cohost breaking ground. If you want to find more podcasts articles, videos, the reflect from a Christian perspective, how to think about the past, understand the present, explore are redemptive possibilities for the future and you can visit Breaking ground.us.
1 (57m 39s):
And I wanted to say thank you to Jake Hansen for editing the Podcast and to Amber Berry, my social media coordinator, who does more to support this show than anyone will ever know. Finally, as you go into your day to day, I also hope that you will carry with you that peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.