Colson and prisons: Why not hard news?

Hey, our home DSL is finally working. Time to do some catching up.

Here is a little essay about Charles Colson that The New York Times ran the other day. Part of me wonders if this is part of the newspaper of record’s attempt to deal with more countercultural and “radical” segments of American life — such as traditional religious believers. But here is the larger question: Why is this on the op-ed page? The topic discussed by Adam Cohen is worthy of news coverage. At least, I think so.

I mean, read this section of the essay and tell me this is not a news hook:

Prison reform has been a liberal cause since the Quakers founded the first penitentiary, Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail, in 1790. Political conservatives have traditionally been more focused on punishing criminals than on reforming them, and religious conservatives have generally felt the same way. “The evangelical church has some great strengths,” Mr. Colson said in an interview, but historically, “concern for the poor and the marginal was not one of them.”

There are signs that, at least on the issue of prisons, that could be changing. In the last few years, evangelical Protestants and their allies in Congress have become more interested in prison reform, and Mr. Colson deserves much of the credit.

Why not turn this into a news feature and interview all kinds of people with all kinds of viewpoints? This sounds like serious news to me.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • MT

    One area of prison reform that desparately needs attention is rape. It’s epidemic and a serious violation of human rights. Thankfully some liberal and conservative groups are working together on the subject. Unfortunately, not many people have symphathy for the victims (witness all the crude jokes).

  • roland

    Prison rape must be the most degrading,horrorfing dehumanizing, soul scaring expirence a human being could suffer.I pray for the victims.


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