Moving Pictures from an Institution: Movie notes

Four films linked by a really depressing theme!Scum: Our institution: a 1970s Borstal (juvenile prison). Does exactly what it says on the tin, not quite two hours of violence and contempt. The use of rules as abuse, creating impossible demands (guard throws a prisoner back into his cell, spilling the guy's mug of soup, then snaps: "Dirty cell, you're on report"); use of prisoners' self-created hierarchies to divide and conquer. The scenes where suicidal prisoners are mocked and beaten are... … [Read more...]

All Theology Is Prison Theology: A Couple of Links

A little while ago I used a Michigan case about videoconference sentencing to explore the theology of the body of the defendant. Here Mississippi attempted--and then retracted--some wrongheaded theology of the family of the incarcerated: Family and friends of Mississippi state prisoners were surprised and alarmed by a new policy announced Wednesday that bans all but immediate family members from visiting. According to a memo posted in state facilities, “this excludes ALL friends, pastors g … [Read more...]

“Inside the Deadly World of Private Prisoner Transport”: The Marshall Project

this piece starts grim and only continues in that vein: In July 2012, Steven Galack, the former owner of a home remodeling business, was living in Florida when he was arrested on an out-of-state warrant for failing to pay child support. Galack, 46, had come to the end of a long downward spiral, overcoming a painkiller addiction only to struggle with crippling anxiety. Now, he was to be driven more than a thousand miles to Butler County, Ohio, where his ex-wife and three children lived, to face … [Read more...]

“Humiliation and Reconciliation”: I’m at AmCon

as usual I seem to have kept the most important stuff for the last three paragraphs, but here's the opener: My poolside reading this July has been Mary C. Mansfield’s 1995 work The Humiliation of Sinners: Public Penance in Thirteenth-Century France. The book illuminates human questions we still have not resolved with stories from civilizational past. You don’t have to care as much about the Rogation dragon as I do to see echoes of Mansfield’s medieval world in our own rituals of public abase … [Read more...]

Who Is Doing Good Ministry to Corrections Officers?

Last Saturday was the feast of Sts Processus and Martinian, patrons of wardens, guards, and prison police. Legend says that they were the jailers of St Peter and St Paul, who were converted when the apostles were miraculously freed (Acts 16).This got me wondering. In certain Christian circles we hear a lot about prison ministry. Visiting prisoners is one the basic Catholic corporal works of mercy. Pope Francis has been phenomenal when it comes to loving the prisoners in his flock--it's not … [Read more...]

Movie Must-Watch Notes: Abuse of Power Comes as a TOTAL Surprise!

OK, first of all I have to tell you that I saw Tickled and I want you to go see it without knowing much about it. I went in knowing that it was a documentary about "competitive endurance tickling" and the filmmaker uncovers... something? a weird thing? the story is weirder than it sounds? So I assumed it would be a story about a subculture, maybe about how we build community or identity off of inexplicable and sometimes sad things.NOPE. It starts out very, very funny, and the humor is … [Read more...]

“Moral Reconation Theory”: The Bizarre, Creepy Made-Up Religion Used to Re-Educate American Prisoners

like, the Scientology and Goldman Sachs stuff is not even the weirdest or most disturbing stuff in this piece: ...I wanted to find out more about this strange book that has been forced on a million people in the prison system, this book that uses terms and ideas from Scientology and tells people that their immoral personalities are responsible for their substance use, their incarceration and their unhappiness.But for an organization that purports to seek to help as many people as pos … [Read more...]