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The churches and criminal justice.

Dew, Stuart
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Peter Sedgwick, ed., Rethinking sentencing: a contribution to the debate. A report from the Mission and Public Affairs Council. London: Church House Publishing. Pp. 50-63. Downloaded 16 September 2005.

I spend a good deal of time trying to press upon churches the notion
that the criminal justice system, and those who fall foul of it, should be
a cause for Christian concern. It still surprises me – although perhaps,
by now, it shouldn’t – that this is not always as glaringly obvious to others
as it is to me.
There are many reasons why churchgoing Christians might not put criminal
justice top of their list of concerns. Some may see the subject as too
political, or too radical, while some may feel safer supporting a mission
field far from home. Others may make a simple distinction between
the deserving and the undeserving – with offenders being regarded as
undeserving because of their offences – failing to separate the sinner
from the sin.
The truth is that the law, and those who come into conflict with it, has
been a prominent focus within Christianity from the very beginning. The
thrust of Christ’s earthly ministry was to those who, daily, clog our courts,
prisons and probation offices. He engaged the cheat, the robber, the
beggar and the prostitute. He had time for the mentally ill, others whom
nice folks avoided, and those not quite able to make their way in the
world. And, of course, he experienced for himself the harshness of the
justice system at the time. He was arrested in the middle of the night on
the word of a friend who was a paid informer, subjected to intimidating
questioning and remanded in custody. He was subjected to police
brutality, and condemned to die by a weak judge who was put under
pressure by the prosecution. (excerpt)


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