Mass Incarceration

Toward a more restorative form of criminal justice

"Clearly, it is not by harshness or by severity, or by overbearing methods, that social evils are removed. It is by education rather than by formal commands, by persuasion rather than by threats. This is the way to deal with people in general."

- Saint Augustine (Letter 22, 5)

The Issue at Hand

Mass Incarceration impacts all of us.  Nearly half of all Americans have had a loved one incarcerated, yet two out of every three people who are released from prison will commit another crime.  The current system of mass incarceration in our country is largely retributive rather than restorative, and disproportionately impacts the poor and minorities.  This further perpetuates the systemic causes of crime including poverty, educational disparity, and racism.  At the core of the discussion is how to create a more restorative system of crime prevention.

What St. Augustine Says

Saint Augustine lived in a time when racial and economic inequality, crime, and incarceration were seemingly as prevalent as they are in our day today.    Yet, he continually advocated for a system that restores rather than simply punishes.

How to Respond

There are many ways to respond to the issue of mass incarceration and to help break the cycle of crime that perpetuates it.  This includes helping those who are incarcerated, supporting their families, helping the victims of crime and their families, to helping those vulnerable to crime.

Reflect & Respond Today

Discover the voices of those who are imprisoned through selections from the Voices from Prison and the Edge Newsletter

Discover how the issue of Mass Incarceration is linked to many other issues of our day

  • 10DecRemember Mass Incarceration on Human Rights DayHuman Rights Day reminds us that we are called to take a stand to defend and promote the basic rights dignity of all persons. We invite you to observe this day by learning, praying, speaking and acting to ensure that basic human rights are respected everywhere. More details »