I need everyone to stop what they’re doing and pay attention to something.
Watch the first video in this news article, and do it with the sound on. Listen to all the men screaming for help. Read the article. It was 100 degrees outdoors in Saint Louis yesterday, and in the Medium Security Institution it was about 109 with no air conditioning. The inmates were suffering more than I can stand to think about, and they were screaming for help.
I know you’re not supposed to read the comments, but I did when that video was shared on Facebook. And I saw commentator after enlightened commentator, declaring that you shouldn’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. That perhaps the victims of these “criminals” also screamed for help. They weren’t trying to deny that the inmates were really suffering, they were taking pleasure in the suffering. And these comments had hundreds of likes. There’s a sizable population out there who honestly believes this is just and perfectly acceptable.
To them, I want to point out a few things that ought to be obvious. First of all, this a jail, not a prison. A medium-security jail. Most of the people in there, are there because they are awaiting trial but can’t afford their bail. They have not been convicted of any crime, violent or otherwise. The people who can afford bail aren’t there at all. The ones who are awaiting their trials in jail, are in jail because they cannot afford to be out of jail. I can’t be sure of every single case, but it’s not been proven in a court of law that all of the men screaming in agony in that video are guilty as charged– and it’s more than likely that, whether or not they committed those crimes, they’re suffering in there instead of somewhere else because they’re poor. Rich people don’t wait for trial in a Missouri jail in July with no air conditioning. This only happens to people without money.
Secondly, the Constitution of the United States still forbids cruel and unusual punishment. It is illegal to make human beings suffer to this extent, even if they’re guilty of crimes. Even if everyone screaming in this video is a murderer or a rapist, it’s still illegal to do this to them.
Thirdly, for God’s sake, listen to this video. You’re hearing human beings scream “help us” to someone who obviously can’t help them, because they are panicking in agony. What have you become if your first reaction to that sound is “they must deserve it?” What have we become as a country, if so many people can exalt over men screaming for help?
Christ didn’t speak about hell all that much in the Gospel, but on the memorable occasion He specifically listed the sins for which a person might go there, neglecting prisoners was one of them. Christ Himself warned us, on no uncertain terms, that He is present to us in inmates in jails. What we do to them is what we do to Him. Christ Himself is crying to us for help; it’s been caught on camera. It’s right here for everyone to see and hear. This is the voice of Christ.
Someday we will all have to face Him and answer.
There may not be much you can do for Christ in this particular jail on this particular day, but don’t let your voice be one of the ones mocking His abuse. Raise your voice in outrage against it. Pray for our nation; then let prayer inspire you to whatever action you can take. Injustice like this happens because it’s allowed to happen; because the people who see it don’t care or think it’s a good thing. One concrete thing we can do is to contact the mayor of Saint Louis, who can be reached here.
Jesus is crying to us for help.
(image via Pixabay)