Heythrop Journal 56 (5):769-777 (2015)

Cynthia R. Nielsen
University of Dallas
Mass incarceration has become a flashpoint in a number of recent political and public policy debates. Consensus about how to balance the just punishment of offenders with the humanitarian goal of providing inmates with genuine opportunities for reconciliation, rehabilitation, and reintegration into society is lacking. Unfortunately, a dualistic “us-versus-them” narrative surrounding these issues has become entrenched, occluding fruitful dialogue and obscuring our ability to see the detrimental effects that our nation’s punitive turn has created. In this essay, we affirm the insights of Wacquant, Clear, and other sociologists and introduce a theological narrative of solidarity and vulnerability that undermines the “us-versus-them” dichotomy and opens up a path for cultivating a “we” community.
Keywords mass incarceration  Catholic Social Teaching  inmate education  race and incarceration  Loic Wacquant  public good
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DOI 10.1111/heyj.12167
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