In a recent interview with the Century, Michelle Alexander, the civil rights lawyer and author of The New Jim Crow, wonders about the stigma in many churches attached to people who have been recently released from prisons. “The deep irony,” she says,” is that the very folks who ought to be the most sensitive to the demonization of the ‘despised,’ the prisoners, have been complicit and silent.” But the kinds of conversations that Alexander’s book seems to demand are very difficult to have--in churches and outside them.
Americans seem to relish putting their fellow citizens behind bars. Lately, some conservatives have begun to see this as a problem.
"The U.S has created a vast legal system for racial and social control, unprecedented in world history. Yet we claim to be colorblind."
Vanderbilt was not the first school to offer theological education in a prison. But it did pioneer the approach of having seminarians learn in company with prisoners.
The Geneva Convention forbids excessive use of solitary confinement. Yet the U.S. persists in using it as punishment.
Few know blindness so profoundly as prisoners who once could see the whole world but now find the universe shrunk to the size of a cell. Inmates hear only what jailers allow, most often some version of “We own you.” As for music, the rhythm of one’s own pulse must suffice, and that hardly leads to dancing. One can even forget how to walk.