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My Take: Jails need Jesus
June 30th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

My Take: Jails need Jesus

Editor's note: Ronald W. Nikkel has been President of Prison Fellowship International, which cares for offenders and other people affected by crime, for 29 years. PFI is holding its World Convocation this week in Toronto.

By Ronald W. Nikkel, Special to CNN

Over the past 35 years, I’ve visited more than 1,000 prisons on every continent except Antarctica. The more time I spend in them, listening to stories of inmates and seeing the terrible impact of incarceration, the more I believe prison is the most irrational of human institutions.

It makes no sense to confine offenders in a population of other offenders and to expect a good outcome – namely, that prisoners become non-offenders by the end of their confinement.

Yet prisoners can change.

To a point, any relationship in which prisoners are loved and know they are loved can have a positive impact. But prisoners are truly transformed not because of punishment or prison but through the love and grace of Jesus expressed through the friendship and care of chaplains and volunteers. Prisoners awaken to the realization that God’s love is unconditional and that they can be forgiven.

Imprisonment, meanwhile, serves more to undo justice than it serves the cause of justice. Nearly everywhere I go as president of Prison Fellowship International, prisons are overused, overcrowded and highly overrated by politicians.

This came into sharp focus in May when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California must drastically reduce its prison population because of severe overcrowding, calling conditions “incompatible with the concept of human dignity.”

Jeanne Woodford, a former state prison director and warden at San Quentin, testified in the case that such conditions “make people worse” and later told the Los Angeles Times that California incarcerates "many more prisoners than is necessary for the safety of the public."

Indeed, the excessive use of imprisonment does far more damage to society than good.

Consider the consequences in post-prison unemployment, repeat offenses and broken families. Global statistics are hard to come by, but The New York Times reported this year that two-thirds of the prisoners in the United States are arrested again within three years of their release and that unemployment rates among ex-prisoners hover in the 50-percent range within nine months or a year of release.

Children of incarcerated parents have higher rates of delinquency, mental illness and drug abuse, and lower levels of success in school and, later on, of employment.

Plus, communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis find a breeding ground in the prisons of many countries and spread into the community.

I am not suggesting the abolition of prisons. But most non-violent, non-habitual offenders would benefit far more from punishment befitting their offenses, including restitution, drug or alcohol treatment or fines.

About 40 years ago, Philip Slater wrote a critique of American culture called “The Pursuit of Loneliness,” in which he described what he called the “Toilet Assumption.” It’s the belief that social unpleasantness like criminality, once flushed out of sight, no longer exists.

Walls not only keep prisoners confined; they conveniently remove them from sight. The community believes it is safe.

But sometimes the toilet backs up.

Prison overcrowding such as has occurred in California forces society to face the unpleasantness. And although this process sometimes leads to token reforms, public attention is quickly distracted by other news.

But almost all offenders eventually leave prison. And then our unwillingness to deal with the causes of crime comes home to roost.

Prison conditions contribute to offenders’ ability and inclination to make good decisions when they are released. Repeat offender rates are high anyway, but overcrowding can drive them even higher, partly because prisons are less likely to offer rehabilitation programs that ease prisoners' re-entry into society.

But the real challenge is not overcrowding; it’s the Toilet Assumption, which makes it possible for otherwise humane societies to allow those conditions to develop. When something is out of public sight and mind, otherwise compassionate people simply do not care.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said the nations of the world will one day be judged by how they responded to those society wants to flush away: the hungry, the naked, the sick, the prisoners. In fact, God effectively says, “When you flushed them away, you flushed me as well.”

As reformer Vivien Stern points out, prisons are a mirror of society. How we treat our offenders is not just a problem of the criminal justice system; it is a problem of the community.

All too often, politicians don’t deal with the failure of prisons because the public thinks prisons work. We Christians have a responsibility as followers of Jesus to tell the truth - to counter the Toilet Assumption.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ronald W. Nikkel

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Politics • United States

soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. HeavenSent

    I'm the real HeavenSent.

    Amen.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Artist

      Above HeavenSent is clearly a fake. Her post lacks ignorance and judgemental views.

      June 30, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I try to feel sorry for you phony heavensent but I know you are a sociopath with no breaks, no depth, no substance and certainly no originality. Just a hit and run mentality as you laugh to yourself. So sad. So very sad.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
  2. HeavenSent

    Everyone's out to get me today. Where's Jesus when I need him???

    June 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You almost got it phony heavensent. You'd only know Jesus if you searched for Him. But, sadly, you're all about controlling others. You really need to look into that issue of trust phony or you will continue live lonely ... all by yourself.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  3. Zelda

    I love you too Adelina.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  4. Reality

    It is time to replace all religions with a few rules like "Do No Harm" and convert all houses of "worthless worship" to recreation facilities and parks. Said destruction followed by construction will add jobs and decrease the crime rate and thereby help reduce the jail population.

    And by the way, jails are supposed to be horrible places. We should make them even worse than they are today as an added incentive not to commit a crime. "Country club" prisons for white-collar crimes should be at the top of the list of things to cut from state and federal budgets.

    For posting on all the cell walls of prisons:

    SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
    THERE NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION ORTHODOX FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    Added details upon request.

    June 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, just think what you could do with all that research of yours if you used ORIGINAL THOUGHT.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  5. William Demuth

    Clyde, It is I, Blanco Diablo who is blocking your postings.

    If you want your words to appear you must slaughter an earthworm, and spread his entrails upon your keyboard.

    Then repeat this Latin prayer

    I ma a tolaez ohw si yllacigolonhcet deriapmi

    June 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jesus

      The correct prayer for all religious people is "Owa tanass siam." Repeat it again and again.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Thank you. I will say that prayer many times a day. I am always looking for new ways to talk to Jesus.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Phony heavensent, enjoy this life for you are not bucking for eternity.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    Has anyone else noticed the more Christian a poster is, the less likely he is to be computer literate?

    I noticed something similar on right wing radio. It seems the products they advertise border on being specifically designed for the simple minded or the paranoid.

    Wrinkle creams, gold investment cons, miracle diets, and propaganda publications! The product is always FREE, (just pay a small handling fee)

    Sort of reminds me of religion.

    June 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Get a life Bill with your nonsense. I have a MIS degree.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • News Flash

      Exceptions prove the rule.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Really, it's 17.2 Times. Not 17.3

      And illiterate. If you are conservative and/or religious, you are 17.2 times more likely to post misspelled grammatical jumbles in all-caps.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Heaven

      Define what an "MIS" degree is in Christian land.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I mean a Miss degree but just one character difference.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • JF

      HeavenSent,

      Are you saying that you have a degree from Ole Miss?

      June 30, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • God

      MIS = My I'm Stupid

      June 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @JF

      ROFLMAO !!!! 😀

      Regardless of whether it is true or not(comment/question to HeavenSent).

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Colin

      Bill et. al. – My favorite is when you get religious posters claiming to be scientists of some stripe or another. They tend to claim to be particle physicists or biologists who "saw the light" when looking at nature in their chosen fields. They then post the typical nonsense no scientist in their right mind would post – such as how mainstream science is turning against evolution or how fundamental particle physics are revealing that [the Christian] god is real.

      I once had Mormons come to my door. I invited them in and debated with them for a while. I actually like these guys and will never understand why people feel the need to be rude to them. However misguided I might think they are, they truly believe they are doing some good for me – hard to get angry at that. Actually, the lady was pretty hot and I tried flirting with her – to no avail.

      Anyway, after a while they said they would be back next week with their "heavy hitter" to point out all the faults in my view of the World. Sure enough, they showed up and this guy was a total fraud. He had them convinced he was a particle physicist and knew just enough to blind them with science, but clearly had no idea what he was talking about. I threw out words like the “Eadie Boson” and the “Whittle Particle” and he didn’t flinch.

      Eadie and Whittle are two guys I went to high school with in Australia. They both work in the small town I grew up in and I can assure you they do not have fundamental particles named after them!!

      June 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Paranoia Puncture

      HeavenSent, "I have a MIS degree"

      Pity that you didn't keep up with technological progress since the punched card systems...

      June 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      At least I had a career that gave me a retirement package. I wish I could say that for all of you but, you have to start searching for that start to WORK.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  7. tom

    rather than teach inmates fairy tales about some supernatural god, why not help them recognize the truth? you have one life. yours is in prison, so decide how you can best live it given your restrictions.
    When you die, that's it. you are dead. so live now.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus is the truth about life and the hereafter. Truth is, you folks are too LAZY to read, comprehend and abide in His wisdom.

      If anyone believes in fairy tales, it's you non-believers.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      In truth, heaven sent us tsumanis, tornadoes, plus cancers and other horrible diseases too numerous to mention. In truth, god must be a real as-shole.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      HeavenSent
      It's been demonstrated here time and again, some of the most biblically literate among us are those who do not accept it as authoritative, (in a doctrinal sense), in any way. They are not lazy.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • tom

      heavensent, I have read the bible in world lit class. It is simply a piece of literature written by men just like any other book. do you really take it literally as in virgin birth?

      June 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Bucky, use your imagination for what lazy really means.

      Smile.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  8. Artist

    Is it true that Christians are never victims of crime? If Jesus can't even stop a thug, what makes them think Jesus will help or change a thug? In AZ today they put down a killer. He and killed a small girl in Flags taff. Perhaps Jesus was busy with some inma tes, rather than protect a small child? Perhaps Jesus was at the ca sino helping some old person win a jackp ot? I will pa ss, you can keep your incompitent god...he su cks.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Artist

      A dude named Epicurus spelled this out WAY back.

      Either God can't or wont help. Either way he is unworthy of worship even if he did exist

      June 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Always with the instant gratification Artist. Learn this truth once and for all. Life is a test from God. You have 2 choices. Love and believe in Him or love and believe in satan. All your whining about Jesus doing this and Jesus not doing that is because you truly believe that this life is all there is. Where as Christians know this life is our testing grounds for what we do before we go back to Him. You don't want to comprehend this truth because you still think and believe on the carnal level. If you ever get to develop your spiritual wisdom (only by reading His truth, the Bible), will you know the difference between carnal beliefs versus spiritual truth.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      See there I explained why god can be such an as-shole. He loves you really. He just needs to tor-ture you and make you suffer. But he loves you. No really. He'll roast you if you don't believe with no evidence but he loves you. Really. Personally.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Artist

      HeavenSent-"Where as Christians know this life is our testing grounds for what we do before we go back to Him. "
      ––
      I am well aware of this idea and used to believe it. I guess the 12 year old girl who was ra ped, tortured then finally ki lled failed her test. Oh wait...she never felt any pain and her death was a test to her parents? Or perhaps the little girl simply p! S S ed god off?

      June 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Love and believe in Him or love and believe in satan." I guess you are unable to count since I know there are more than two options. For atheists we have the option to believe in neither, not to mention the thousands of other god's people have worshiped through the ages.

      June 30, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Artist, you are still thinking on the carnal level. I keep telling you the spiritual answer you will reject.

      GodPot, you are in the same carnal thinking boat. P.S. God's wisdom is LOGIC.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @HS
      "God's wisdom is LOGIC."
      -- So there is LOGIC in the 5 year old last Halloween in the little grey mouse outfit, with the grey tail dragging on the floor, pushing his I-Med and chemotherapy with one arm, and carrying his trick-or-treat bag with the other ? Right.

      July 2, 2011 at 5:38 am |
  9. William Demuth

    Christians get high on twisting the minds of the vulnerable.

    Priests pumping lies to desperate people is getting as common as priests pumping altar boys from behind.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      How convenient for you Bill. You act like your met every Christian that every existed to write that statement. Try this on for size. It's the ways of the world that is the easy way out.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      That's what I get for typing in the dark. I was suppose to write you've, instead of your.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I was doing something else in the dark then.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • GodPot

      William, you are absolutely right, I know, I was one of them (not the priest pumping boy's btw, but getting high on the message). As a pastor for almost 20 years I know the feeling I would get when I felt I had helped convince someone of my churches version of, and what I thought at the time was, truth. It's the same kind of high I would get at the podium speaking to my congregation of 120 or so, oh what adrenaline. But, nowI have the same feeling I would assume an asbesto's salesman from the 50's felt, who thought the world of his product only to learn later that all those schools he believed he was protecting were now giving cancer to kids.

      June 30, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Phony heavensent. What? No date on the horizon again this weekend?

      It must get lonely never trusting others in life? A must read "Narcissism, Denial of the True Self" ... "a life devoid of emotions is beyond imagination" ... Alexander Lowen.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  10. William Demuth

    They THRIVE on anyone who can't escape from their relentless lies, so naturally they want to use our prison system to swell the ranks of their indoctrinated zombies.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Artist

      Where can they run and get away from the bible humpers? However some lies are for the better I guess. Churches and Jesus can't stop our crime in our cities. what makes them think it works in prison? lol

      June 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  11. William Demuth

    Prisons need Jesus like prisons need Allah.

    Both are opiates for sick minds, and prisons provide both religions captive audiences ripe for indoctrination.

    How sick this man is to believe his imaginary sky freind can serve ANY good at all! He is just so desperate in the waining years of his religion, that soon enough he will be preaching to the comatose and brain dead.

    Religion flourishes in diseased minds, but it is others that must pay the price.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I suppose you non-believers truly believe that you are the closest to perfection?

      Shaking my head. Ways of the world. Ways of the world ... and you non-believers wreak of it.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  12. The Watcher

    Maybe we should stop allowing companies who own prisons to send lobbyists to pay our government to create laws and to keep failed laws up just so more people get locked up. It's not about right or wrong anymore, It's about profit. Prisoners don't need Jesus, they need others not to help the cycle to keep them locked up, example : I'm sorry we don't hire felons or we can't rent to anyone with a felony.

    June 30, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  13. AmazingSteve

    You know, as an atheist, prisons are the one place I have no objection to religion. These are people who don't seem to have the same built-in sense of morality that the rest of us do. The threat of some magic sky-father looming over them, watching everything they do, might actually go a long way towards convincing them to stay a bit more in line with the rest of society.

    So there, I've publicly endorsed religion.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Laughing

      I don't think you just endorsed religion, I think you just endorsed the side-effect of religion, namely used as a tool to control other people.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • William Demuth

      So Steve

      Are you REALLY sure you want Christians teaching the wackos morality?

      Isn't that what gave us the hollocaust, the witch trials, the inquisition, slavery, Jonestown and all the other Christian morality issues of the past century?

      June 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Laughing, I thought you non-believers got passed the "control the masses" nonsense of defense for your laziness. You single handily put this blog back 8 months with that old side line belief.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      @William and Laughing: I would much prefer they learned real, secular morality instead of ridiculous surrogate morals from religion, but they obviously haven't taken very well to my preference. If it works, it works. You have to keep in mind: for the most part, the people who would find religion in jail aren't going to be the brightest bunch, and won't have the motivation or charisma to start a catastrophe on the scale of those that were mentioned. If teaching the criminally insane to fear the watchful eye of an imaginary man in the sky is all it takes to get them to behave, then awesome. At least they won't bother the rest of us, that way.

      @HeavenSent: I can't actually penetrate the awful wording of your response. Do better, guy. You're setting the entire internet back years with your faulty understanding of sentence structure.

      June 30, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  14. K Williams

    3 Strikes, War on Drugs, Determinate Sentencing, Corruption in the prison system – these all contribute to the over crowdedness. And with crime rates down, but 75% recidivism rate, what are parolees being re-arrested for if not crime?! CA has far too many laws – many of which were brought about by pushing the public's emotional buttons.
    Throughout history, whenever prison systems reached critical mass, reform followed. Slowly, each prison reform brought with it new ideas for how to make the system a little more humane, which, in turn, brought about progressively more desirable results in parolee behavior than had previous systems.. The current American prison system is a strange mix of the first 2 historical systems, seeming to not want to let go completely of torture as punishment beyond the sentence, or the money-making potent...ial underlying the system. The 3rd system, and the one historically proven to get the best results, was the one which implemented indeterminate sentences and let the prisoners take responsibility for their actions inside. This means that all those who acted responsibly were released early (w/supervision) based on a merit system, and those who didn't act responsibly, did their entire allotted time – no matter what the offense. But that's not all. The 3rd system enacted treatment of prisoners that showed respect for life, which included giving them the same opportunity to be educated as those on the outside. But corrupt prison administration sabotaged that system.
    Education, Respect of human life, Responsibility for implementing the opportunity to change the quality of life... This is something that is supposed to be happening inside prisons already, according to CA penal code section 5054, but is not. Why isn't it being upheld? Prison is just a bad idea no matter how you look at it. The past 30 years in CA's prison system have taken us backward rather than forward in prison and criminal justice reformation. The Supreme Court Order is proof that critical mass has again been reached in prison history. It's time for Reform. I hope the public trulyrealizes that this is what is best for everyone, not only for prisoners.
    Now is the perfect time to introduce a Prison Reform basically new to America – Restorative Justice. It works, and does so without any of the negative residuals our country has been plagued with since the idea of Prison infected this land at its 'founding'.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • JohnR

      Thanks for a great and informative post.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      I worked in Orange county CJS system from eighty 1 until ninety 5 .. and both jail and juvy-probation are worse than Abu Graibe .. inhumane .. dehumanizing ..

      June 30, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      but they suppress any writing or report that says that ... the media does not want to hear about it .. the EEOC does not want to hear about it .. the courts cover it up (since probation works for the courts) .. L.A is worse as is Riverside ..

      June 30, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      K Williams, I can tell you're very young and still believe that your generation will change the world. I suggest you look up the words sociopaths, psychopaths, anti-social personalities. They do walk among us and when caught doing their deeds and happen to get caught. They get locked up.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  15. Wonder

    Jesus alone provides freedom and salvation to anyone who trusts Him. Inmates need Jesus as everyone else does.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Jesus is a lie, and these people need the truth.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Wonder

      You said: "Jesus alone provides freedom and salvation to anyone who trusts Him. Inmates need Jesus as everyone else does."

      Muslims think Allah alone provides freedom and salvation. What proof do you have that your god is the true god?

      Curious in Arizona

      June 30, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Adelina

      My wooden Jesus provides comfort in all the right places.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Adelina

      You said: "My wooden Jesus provides comfort in all the right places."

      That was most funny. And blasphemous. Well done.

      Cheers!

      June 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Artist

      David-Even christian women have needs that must be "filled" by jesus.

      June 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      That sort of brings new meaning to the line "The power of Christ compells you"

      June 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      It was a pleasure not logging on for over a month. Gave my brain a rest from reading all the perverted statements coming from the non-believers mindset as they think it funny and just a "normal way of life". SNL, you are not.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Artist

      William Demuth

      That sort of brings new meaning to the line "The power of Christ compells you"
      ------
      He compelled mary filled her full of the lord.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  16. Ron

    "My Take: Jails need Jesus"

    Um, NO, they DO NOT need Jesus. Most the people in jail are Christian. Apparently, already "having Jesus" wasn't enough. I might suggest looking at the real causes as to why these people are in jail. Sorry, but your god doesn't fix everything. I think the thought is to get in jail and push "Jesus" on everyone in jail. Push, somewhere else...like Iran.

    June 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Congratulations Ron. You just admitted that you are a communist. Why don't you go to one of their countries that are brittle bones, spiritually dead and deny Jesus? You folks can all be miserable together.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Ron

      @Heavensent
      Why am I communist? Because I said that everyone doesn't need Jesus? I'm Wiccan and don't have anything to do with Jesus. He's not my god, period. I realized that some people worship Jesus but not everyone in this world. The Pagan religions support freedom, personal freedom, personal responsibility for ones actions. To us, you can believe or not believe as you will but you have no right to expect or demand that others follow your religion. I or many Pagans I have spoken with, all agree that their is not nor will there ever be 'one true' religion. That smacks of arrogance....my way is the only way.
      I also stated a fact, most people in jail are Christians. Apparently, their religious teachings really didn't matter or count for these individuals. This is also when I hear the cliche comment of "not being real Christians". Those of my faith do not believe in the need for salvation, or the Christian concept of sin. To us, all actions have consequences, be the actions good or bad.
      Also, Christianity and Wicca are as different as apples and oranges. Both are religions but the beliefs are vastly different from one another. I don't care if you approve of my religion, it doesn't matter. You claim that your god doesn't approve but there again, it doesn't matter. I answer to my own Gods not yours. Wiccans will not seek to force others to become Wiccan. Wiccans do not proselytize because we realize that our faith isn't for everyone and we're not concerned if you believe in Wicca, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hindu, Buddhist, any other religion, Pagan or not, or even Atheists or Agnostics, or whatever, your spiritual development is your own and not for any one else to judge.
      Again, my statement reflects that those who did whatever to get themselves incarcerated, their religion or religious upbringing didn't matter. Just because it's going to be a different flavor of Christianity may or may not make anything, it certainly doesn't prove anything. Christianity has done some wonderful things in this world but it has also done some atrocious things in the name of religion and god to this world. Your religious beliefs are no better than anyone else's. It's important to you because you CHOOSE to believe in it. I'm simply saying that it is neither wrong or right, it's your belief is all.
      I will also say that one thing that especially irritates about conservative Christianity is you assume much when judging others. You really have no frame work to judge others or their beliefs except based off of what you believe. You have never experienced my Gods or our relationship. Until that time, you have no basis of comparison except the human nature which says because I believe it this way, nothing else is true. Sorry but the world and the spiritual world is far bigger than you or what you believe.

      July 1, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  17. RightturnClyde

    electronic ankle bracelets make jails and prisons practically unnecessary in 2011 billions could be saved by closing all but a few

    June 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      bureaucrats tremble at the suggestion of closing their empires so they spend millions on studies and papers that affirm the necessity of jails and prisons

      June 30, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      you can fill in the blanks .. I will avoid further antagonizing of censors

      June 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  18. RightturnClyde

    I actually got fired from a job in 1977-78 because I submitted a report that said the jail was so dangerous that someone's will (end) because of the jail. I was ordered to remove that I refused because I was fired.

    June 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      To censors: I am not using any dirty words I never do nor standard naughty words like when you stub your toe. I am not saying any thing bad about anybody or any thing . I apologize for any thing that sounded bad .. it was not intended to be bad

      June 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      there is an author named Mattick who wrote an excellent book a jail reform for Illinois .. applies to most jails in the U.S. .. I worked in jail reform from sixty 9 to seventy 9 in southern third of Illinois

      June 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      jails and juvy are also inhumane and great risk to human life in Orange County and Lows Angeles and Riverside and eastern Illinois and many N. Illinois counties

      June 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Damn Clyde, I thought I was the only old geezer on this board!

      June 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Young, wet behind the ears, and totally clueless.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Paranoia Puncture

      HeavenSent = old, superst'itious and delusional

      June 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Paranoia Puncture, the only delusional folks in the world are those that believe in only themselves. Carnal is as carnal does.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  19. David Johnson

    From the article:
    "I am not suggesting the abolition of prisons. But most non-violent, non-habitual offenders would benefit far more from punishment befitting their offenses, including rest_itution, drug or alcohol treatment or fines."

    If we legalized most drugs and used the money that is spent for the war on drugs on drug treatment centers, we would be far better off. No more drug cartels. No more financial support for gangs. Robberies would decrease – drugs would be cheap! Lindsay Lohan could stay out of trouble.

    Some of the money saved, could be spent on trade schools. We will always need electricians, plumbers, carpenters etc. Good trades. With collective bargaining, good pay. With good jobs and good pay, crimes will decrease.

    There was a study that abortion actually reduced crime over time. Something to think about...

    Why do jails need Jesus rather than Allah or Krishna? or the Elephant god? Isn't one myth as good as another? There are lots of Muslims in prison. You going to tell them Jesus is the one true demigod? Without proof? Hmmm... Can you say, "prison riot"?

    I don't think Jesus is the answer to any of our problems. Except maybe the revenue problem. Let's tax Jesus via his churches. Lots of debt reducing money there.

    Cheers!

    June 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jesus

      Awesome post!

      June 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • JohnR

      Great post, David. Right now the War on Drugs is a sink hole of spending. We would not only save THAT money, but could raise significant tax revenues via legalization.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Free

      David
      Yes, let's tax the churches more fairly. Instead of giving them a blanket tax break just because they do some charity work, tax them on the counseling, wedding, and other non-charity businesses they provide on the same level as we tax secular businesses that do the same thing.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @DJ

      Another good one, brother...!

      Peace...

      June 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      David, I'm aware that you are young ... but, do you know who Ted Bundy is? The Green River Killer? John Wayne Gacey just to mention a few psychopaths? Next you'll be writing everyone that Caylee did drown in the family swimming pool.

      Get a grip. You are absolutely clueless of how many sociopaths walk among us. Just thank Jesus that you have encountered one yet in your youth.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm mentally very young for my age.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • LinCA

      @HeavenSent

      Ted Bundy, Gary Leon Ridgway (Green River Killer) and John Wayne Gacy were all devout christians.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Paranoia Puncture

      HeavenSent: Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and The Green River Killer (Ridgeway) were all Christians. Look up Casey Anthony's jailhouse letters - she has Bible quotes all over them. Casey even said, '"“When I’m thinking something random, I sneeze. At times I’ve taken that as God affirming or denying my thoughts."

      June 30, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Just because someone claims to be a Christian doesn't mean they comprehend the spiritual teachings of Jesus' truth not to mention ever have read the Bible. There is a big difference of walking the walk and pretending to be among the believers.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  20. RightturnClyde

    I will not be permitted to say anything about jail reform. I ran search for the bad words but still it failed

    June 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      I have been on interd-ict for weeks now. My handle and email address are on a watch list .. and yet I do not use the words .. the words .. it is my conservative and Christian view point they do not approve

      June 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @RightturnClyde

      Hey -Right Turn...

      I'm interested in your -opinions- on prison reform, as apparently you have had a lot of experience her.

      Isn't there some way you can post your basic ideas...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Wonder

      It happens to me sometimes. In such a time, I simply use simpler vocabs meaning the same thing or give up. I have no idea what CNN does with those discarded comments. I wrote on immigration and married life before in different sections before and my comments simply got sucked in without a trace.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • fred

      Check your words and words within words and look for offensive stuff like Const it ution. Gotta split the t and i sometimes not to form a bad partial word. Direct attacks using nationality of owners of this site and hollowood driven media also seem to get snagged.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Dennis

      I have had some terrible times trying to find the "bad" words in my posts. One time I adjusted my post at least a dozen times before I finallly saw that I had used "extrava-gant". My eyes had skimmed right past it ever time.
      The filter also checks your name and email address, so maybe that's where the problem is.

      @Wonder – There are a few words I have yet to discover that make posts get "sucked in without a trace". It has happened to me several times, but every time I was too busy to write the possible words down.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Dennis

      • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @To all on this thread

      Having been on this blog for a year now, one of the ways I have found that works is going up to the 'edit' option, and scrolling down to 'find' and then putting in the 'word fragments' one by one, and it 'will' eventually find the flagged fragment. Once you have found it, you can then put in the hyphen or whatever technique to separate the word to bypass the filter. This is especially useful if you have posted an especially long post.

      Just a suggestion...

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Old Man of the Sea

      What is this "edit" option? I have never seen such a thing!

      June 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Old Man of the Sea

      Nevermind, I think I found it.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Peace2All
      What a great idea !
      Our little group wrote a scanning program that does a search of highlighted text, that essentially does the same thing.

      @RtC
      Am skeptical of the "selective" nature of the block you think is in place. Have found that another "set of eyes" almost always finds an offending string. We could set up a couple email friends to look for the frustrating strings. having found your ideas valuable, and always civil, am sure there are a couple of us who would offer that. Does it happen with EVERY post ?

      June 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      I tried .. but the censor held it .. I am definitely on a list of some kind

      June 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Paranoia Puncture

      RtC: I would almost be willing to put up with seeing you post one or two individual sentences of your comment at a time - just to prove to you that one (or more) of them sets off the filter flag... and to shake you out of this ridiculous paranoia.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • LinCA

      @RightturnClyde

      You may have stumbled on a previously unknown "forbidden" word. Please try one more time to post your comment. Make sure you don't have more than 1 link in it, and place a pe.ri.od af.te.r ev.er.y se.co.nd le.tt.er.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      RTC I understand what you are saying. CNN and Co have been trying to silence me as well.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Laughing

      Who says that all Atheists are mean sprited and horrible people? From what RTC keeps saying, it sounds like he wants to post something very inflamatory and yet most of the people who are trying to help him out to get his post past the moderated are no doubt going to be the ones the most at odds with it.

      RTC, I can promise you that there is no censor who reads every post and then posts it, nor are you on a list, it's just the stupid auto-moderator that doesn't read a post for content.

      June 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Paranoia Puncture

      Listen, HeavenSent, I have personally found Bible quotes that you whined "censorship" about, when they hit the 'awaiting moderation message', I discovered the offending words in them and have reposted them successfully. Get with it...

      June 30, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @LinCA
      A gr.ea.t id.ea !
      When I have taken the time to write out something that takes a while to get right, it is SO frustrating when it won't fly.
      Unlike JR, when it comes to that, I am SO stubborn, the more it won't go, the more PO'd I get, and I will NOT give up.
      If it happens to be lengthy, as a last resort, I go to an old article, for example something I remember from a few months ago, (a political article from last year, or for example, an Oprah article from weeks past), and "post" the post either paragraph by paragraph, or sentence by sentence. You can thus narrow down the offending string to a small position, by exclusion.

      June 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Bucky I admire your tenacity. I've only given up a few times, mostly when I feel I just don't have the time, but sometimes I just feel the old rage rising to levels that make me think the better of messing with it any longer. But it's amazing how often I went on a huge search for the offending sequence only to find it was an old "favorite", eg enti-ty, a word I use a lot. It's actually a fairly challenging sort of word search puzzle. One should market an online game!

      June 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @RightturnClyde

      You said: "I tried .. but the censor held it .. I am definitely on a list of some kind"

      Seriously...did you stop to think, that it might be Satan? Did he not place all those fossils to confuse man into believing in evolution? Did he not trick Eve into eating the forbidden fruit?

      Some comments can only be posted, after fasting and praying. Try this, and then repost.

      Cheers!

      June 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      JR
      Agree. It usually comes down to a very few offenders, often within one's own vocabulary pattern, which is why Peace's idea makes so much sense. You can put the "find" entry box (in Windows7 anyway), permanently as a task bar above your tool bar, and click on "highlight all", and it will highlight anything you type into the find box.

      June 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Artist

      David Johnson

      @RightturnClyde

      You said: "I tried .. but the censor held it .. I am definitely on a list of some kind"

      Seriously...did you stop to think, that it might be Satan? Did he not place all those fossils to confuse man into believing in evolution? Did he not trick Eve into eating the forbidden fruit?

      Some comments can only be posted, after fasting and praying. Try this, and then repost.

      Cheers!

      -----
      Don't forget you also need to do the Jesus Safety Dance before every post. Look up Safety Dance on U-tube.

      June 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Phony heavensent. Did you have fun pretended to be me while I was away? Oh, the only one that silence your self is you by not using your own handle.

      Just a thought. I didn't want to go over your head.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      @HeavenSent: Huh, I THOUGHT you got a little more intelligible for a bit there. That must have been the phony, then?

      STRAW MAN'd!

      June 30, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Just a thought. I didn't want to go over your head." The fact is there have been no Christians I have ever spoken with (about religion) that went over my head. The tried to go around it a lot, but just kept slamming into the logic wall.

      June 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      RightTurn, unfortunately for every profession in the world, not everyone holding a position belongs in said field.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Refresh my memory Paranoia Puncture. What handle did you originally use. I haven't been on this site since last May. I don't ever recall the paranoia puncture handle????

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      GodPot, keep believing it's logic keeping your Christian friends from communicating with you further. It's more likely they know not to keep throwing Jesus' pearls your way.

      Amen.

      June 30, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Paranoia Puncture

      Heaven Sent: Here's one that I fixed for you ( I sure don't have time or the inclination to find the others...)

      HeavenSent

      The mod squadders are at it again. Refusing to post Ezekiel 28:18-19. You'll just have to read it on your own.

      Amen.
      April 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |

      -----------------------------------------------
      Paranoia Puncture

      18Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the mult.itude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

      19All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.

      Is that the one that you accuse the magical 'mod squad' of zapping, HeavenSent?
      April 20, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |

      June 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.