Day 16 Devotional & Discussion – March 22, 2014

Psalm 102Psalm 10

Psalm 102 is a lament—an expression of deep anguish in the face of deep suffering.  As you read it, imagine a wrongly convicted inmate in his cell.   Then, use Psalm 10 as a prayer for those who are incarcerated wrongfully and for those who continue to be punished long after their release from prison. 

Two years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that giving juveniles mandatory life sentences violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  The ruling was based in part on brain research that shows that teenage brains are less developed than adult brains.  (A Mandatory Life Sentence means that the judge in the case was required by law to give the sentence.)  Several states, including Pennsylvania, have refused to reconsider the mandatory life sentences handed out prior to the Supreme Court ruling.  However, on Thursday, March 20, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that new sentencing hearings be held for 100 prisoners who were given mandatory life sentences when they were teenagers.  To learn more about this ruling and the controversy it has created, link HERE.  What do you think?

There is no devotional for Sunday, March 16

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One comment

  1. This one is near and dear to my heart. I was convicted of a crime as a juvenile, and I worked for three years in an juvenile detention center. I saw a recidivism rate of 80%. It was very disheartening. Kids would go to a placement center, make great strides and then be released to their families, right back into the same environment that led to their criminal behavior in the first place. Some might say that keeping them in prison for life is the answer. I disagree. The heart behind their Psalms and the heart behind what we have been learning through this Compact is that we need to do better about how we practice mercy to the incarcerated. Giving the studies cited in this devotional, about the development of teen brains, there is even more reason to think about how we can help incarcerated teens. I just did some quick research and found that recidivism is a very hard number to come by. Here’s a fairly inclusive report about all things juvenile justice: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/nr2006/downloads/NR2006.pdf. On page 234 of the report, it deals with recidivism. Some aspects of the research point to a much better rate than 80%.

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