we want them to …

This week is prisons week which I have thought about more this year in light of the ‘stuff’ in the media recently about whether prisoners should have the vote or not. For a few years now I have been following this blog of a prison chaplain working in Scotland. I think what she writes is very powerful, and today she posts a thought provoking poem from Judge Dennis Challeen:

We want them to have self-worth
So we destroy their self-worth

We want them to be responsible
So we take away all responsibility

We want them to be positive and constructive
So we degrade them and make them useless

We want them to be trustworthy
So we put them where there is no trust

We want them to be non-violent
So we put them where violence is all around them

We want them to be kind and loving people
So we subject them to hatred and cruelty

We want them to quit being the tough guy
So we put them where the tough guy is respected

We want them to quit hanging around losers
So we put all the losers under one roof

We want them to quit exploiting us
So we put them where they exploit each other

We want them to take control of their lives, own problems and quit being a parasite…
So we make them totally dependant on us.


It seems to me that more needs to be done to restore hope and responsibility in our fellow human beings, fellow image carriers of God, who are in prisons. Giving back the vote would seem to be one small step in that long massive process.

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