Alternatives to prison needed


I wrote a letter this morning to our local newspaper commending reports of recent decisions by local Judges that apply sentences other than prison for crimes that do not risk community safety. Judges have a difficult assignment and need our prayers and support. 

We also need a nationwide revision to our tendency to use prison as a one-size-fits-all consequence for crime. We’ve created a serious and often overlooked national crisis in overcrowded prisons. The average citizen is unaware of how bad things are and of the growing tax burden it creates. 

Many people view prison as a place to put people for protecting society but, as recidivism rates show, protection of public safety requires more than putting criminals out of sight for a period of time.

According to recent statistics, one out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. One in 36 Hispanic adults and one in 15 black adults is incarcerated (including one in 9 black men between the ages of 20 and 34). A report from the Pew Center found that one in 355 white women between the ages of 35 and 39 and that one in 100 black women is in prison.  

More importantly, overcrowded prisons make it far more difficult for prison staff to provide efficient and effective environments with positive reforming outcomes that help to reduce recidivism. We need more community interest and involvement in seeking solutions and providing alternatives.

We especially need to address the crisis of broken families in our communities. It saddens me to see young people in prisons largely because they were never given the kind of nurture and discipline that could have fortified them against criminal activity. I pray for our Judges as they face daily decisions that most of us would not want to make. I commend the board of directors of our prison, the warden and his staff, and the Adult Probation & Parole officials for finding alternatives to prison for non-violent criminals.

We need more community conversations and action plans for implementing better solutions to this nationwide crisis.

Steve Cornell
Senior pastor
Millersville Bible Church
58 West Frederick Street
Millersville, Pa. 17551
717-872-4260 (office)


About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Behavior, Citizenship, Crime, Crisis, Culture, Fathers, Government, Politics, Prison, Prison Ministry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Alternatives to prison needed

  1. Tim Allen says:

    Timeouts for kids leads to more timeouts. A part of the solution could likely be found in re-discovering repayment of loss for crimes like theft and vandalism. Putting criminals in the place of experiencing personal loss of time and money may help them to understand how their criminal decisions unfairly take away from that which belongs to another. It’s called restitution! I’m sure you are familiar with the concept. 😉

    It would be helpful for our community and nation to find consensus on what “non-violent” crimes include, as well. As a believer, even “non-violent” crimes are a disturbance of shalom. How do we narrowly define the term? And, what crimes should be included (or not) in that list?
    Working on solutions together will definitely help.


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