Day 28 – Devotional & Discussion April 5, 2014

Proverbs 14:31, Proverbs 22:22-23

A full 70% of the people held in Cook County (IL) jail are there simply because they cannot afford to post bond.  They are not dangerous.  They are charged with a violent crime.  They are held—sometimes for months while they await their hearing or trial—because they are poor.  According to Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board, we have turned Cook County jail into the new debtor’s prison.  In addition, many inmates have some form of mental illness or are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The bottom line: Our jails are filled with the poor and needy. 

What opinion do you think God might have about locking up the poor and needy?  What alternative might God want us to pursue? 

Crime statistics and poverty statistics overlap.  The poor are more likely to be victims of crime and they are more likely to engage in criminal behavior—often because they have not other means of surviving.  Many people have attributed this to some flaw in the personal character of people in poverty.  What do you think?

There is no devotional for Sunday, April 6, 2014.  Devotionals will resume on Monday, April 7

2 comments

  1. I once was told that prostitution arrests went up significantly at the end of the month because there were more prostitutes on the streets. Was business better? No. Women had used up their resources and needed funds to support their families. As soon as the first of the month arrived, prostitution returned to previous levels. We do not pay living wages for work. We cut benefits for the working poor. We eliminate public or affordable housing options. And then we vilify people for trying to survive. God’s law provided for the poor through gleaning laws, etc., and prevented abuse of the poor by prohibiting interest on loans. Our current market driven practices (such as maintaining low wages for the poor and low taxes for the wealthy) contribute to the criminalization of those who have few other options.

  2. Sometimes this discussion reminds me of conversations we have in church, or about our denomination. We see a goal, but our current structures make it next to impossible to achieve that goal. To get to the goal, you almost need to abandon the structures and start over. Is it realistic to think that we could reform such a mammoth system? Might it be better to think how we can hit the reset button? Then I think of world changers like MLK. He was able, through non-violent resistance, able to see sweeping changes. What do we need to do start that in the area of prison reform, especially considering the injustice to the poor?

    I agree with this devotional. There is much injustice to the poor.

    Maybe I have a good example how to respond to it from my own back yard. While it is not a nationwide example, it is on a larger level than just one person or just one church. Our school district ministerium, 15-20 churches, has worked together, across denominational lines to start a wonderful social services organization that provides food and clothing to many area families. I don’t know that it is measurable, but how much crime has this outreach prevented by helping the poor? Perhaps churches working together is something more communities could benefit from?

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