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Good Punishment? Christian Moral Practice and U.S. Imprisonment

Logan, James Samuel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Cambridge, UK: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co..

“…this book will suggest that a Christian social ethics of “good punishment” focused on the contemporary United States practice of imprisonment can be developed through a re/constructive critique of the “Anabaptist Methodist” Stanley Hauerwas’s theological ethics of punishment. To focus Christian social ethics on the contemporary United States practice of imprisonment, which is now employed on an unprecedented scale, is to foreground a major obstacle to the transformation and restoration of offenders in community as well as society at large. An assumption underlying the effort that follows is that incapacitating and controlling socially destructive persons is a legitimate social aim for any society wishing to preserve itself. Indeed, it would be naive to deny that in a highly complex society at least some minimum system of justice is necessary. This includes police, courts, and other institutions set up to adjudicate justice claims whenever some fair distribution of goods and/or rights has been “criminally” disrupted. In addition, society must continually secure effective ways of addressing criminal breaches of responsibility that threaten the cohesion of the nation. Central to Christian perspectives on criminal justice is the requirement of discerning the difference Jesus makes for Christian participation in society’s understanding and carrying out of punishment. Christian must continually struggle with how best to embrace the praxis of criminal justice while demonstrating a politics of better hope for society. This better hope should connect the Christian worship of God to a radically reconfigured reality of justice ushered into human history by God’s self-unveiled love and justice in the person of Jesus Christ.” (excerpt)


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