Missouri’s prisons are bursting at the seams. And it’s only going to get worse, unless some drastic changes are implemented. Our state has reached a fork in the criminal justice road. Down one path Missouri will find itself with an exponentially growing prison population, an expensive new prison, and no progress made. Anne Precythe, the Director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, is committed to leading Missouri in the other direction. In her testimony at a House budget hearing this session, she said the department will look instead at reducing prison populations before expanding the system.
Catholic teaching supports this action. In a statement from the year 2000, Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said, “Our criminal justice system should punish the offender and, when necessary, imprison them to protect society. Their incarceration, however, should be about more than punishment. Since nearly all inmates will return to society, prisons must be places where offenders are challenged, encouraged, rewarded for efforts to change their behaviors and attitudes, and where they learn the skills needed for employment and life in the community. We call on the government to redirect the vast amount of public resources away from building more and more prisons and toward better and more effective programs aimed at crime prevention, rehabilitation, education efforts, substance-abuse treatment and programs of probation, parole and reintegration.”
To read the entire MCC Messenger, visit mocatholic.org.