Mission Committee 2015 Topic: Mass Incarceration

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ? Matthew 25:35-36

Mass incarceration: the words sound ominous but what do they mean? What does mass incarceration have to do with police tactics in Ferguson, New York City and other areas around the country? What are we as Christians called to do?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ?

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Prison and Children

prisonandchildrenOne route to our house in France passes by the detention center for our region. John and I are always struck by the playground equipment and the picnic tables that sit outside the prison. Clearly, family visits to inmates are expected and even normal.

In Conneciticut, however, family visits to loved ones in prison are rare, in part because of lack of transport.

The not-for-profit agency Families in Crisis sponsors a van, recently the victim of state budget cuts, to take families for such visits, and the Mission Committee has gladly contributed to keeping this service alive.

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Donations to the First Congregational Church of Guilford Re-Entry Ministry

The Mission Committee responded to a request from the First Congregational Church of Guilford
Re-entry Ministry for supplies for duffle bags for Connecticut women recently released from
prison. These women have nothing when they are released. In response, we provided supplies
for 10 duffle bags:

Towel set (1 bath, hand, wash)
Umbrella (fold up)
Winter hat, gloves, scarves, socks
Writing paper, tablet, pens
Bus pass

Marcia Myhre, one of the coordinators of the program, wrote to thank us. “I want you to know
that your church has been the most responsive. You have our gratitude. We will have a formal
blessing at our church for our donors on Palm Sunday.… Continue

Mass Incarceration

David Brook’s writing The Prison Problem in the September 29th Opinion section of the New York Times states: “But today’s incarceration levels do little to deter crime while they do much to rip up families, increase racial disparities and destroy lives.”

He then goes on to write that the reasons for mass incarceration are more nuanced that previously reported.  It is not the ‘war on drugs’ and it is not ‘minimum mandatory sentences’.  Reporting on work by John Pfaff of Fordham Law School, Brooks concludes that “District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges.… Continue