I saw a piece from Fox News this early April, that raised the call again, for redemption, for a second chance for the nearly 2.3 million Americans imprisoned in our country. It was lifted by a Christian minister who is an adviser to a group called, "Safe Streets and Second Chances." It echoes the historic Quaker concern for human redemption in what they called, "penitentiaries."
Pastor Paula White-Cain of Orlando, Florida, pleads that "prisons should offer an opportunity for prisoners to reflect on their sins, reform their ways and re-enter society as productive citizens." "But," she says, "our criminal justice system overwhelmingly fails at this crucial task. Two-thirds of offenders are re-arrested within just three years after their release."
"A criminal justice system," she goes on, "that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation is fundamentally at odds with a faith that preaches forgiveness and redemption." She calls for Christians, with their 2,000 years of experience helping people find redemption, to once again step forward and help.
Then she tells the story of a 21-year-old young man "shoveling cow manure on a Nebraska farm," was tempted by a friend to rob banks for easy money. They did, and he was caught, and was in Federal Prison for 11 years. "Small graces," she said, "gradually awakened his faith. He took a job in the prison law library, where he began to read and teach himself the Law. He eventually became a 'jailhouse lawyer,' taking on the cases of his fellow prisoners... two of his petitions were granted by the U.S. Supreme Court."
People in his life did not give up on the young man. An old girlfriend wrote him letters and became close to him. His parents prayed for him and sent him Christian books.
He married Annie and they were baptized together. "Surrendering to God's grace was, "he said, "the most important decision of my life."
Upon release in 2009, he got a job helping attorneys with their Supreme Court briefs. He went to law school and is now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
His amazing story points to what offenders can do with their lives if given a second chance, by friends, family, employers, the community, and by the power of a true faith in God.
It's a touching, true story of what can and needs to be happening in lives that often among us are condemned - in the name of justice.
These are angry days, of much shouting, and a spirit of vengeance. There are ways - given by God - for healing to happen in our society, and new life to come miraculously into our midst.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES