There are times when I just shake my head.
I’m reading a short news item about the Michigan Department of Corrections. Director Heidi Washington proudly reports that the prison population dropped again this year…it’s now down to its lowest level since the mid-90s. While we have been critical of the department and the Parole Board on many issues, we must give credit where credit is due. For five years now the number has been coming down. Michigan’s recidivism rate is much improved, and fewer people are returning to prison once they get out.
Numbers like this don’t just happen. It takes a lot of work by a lot of people, and it requires a fresh attitude about human beings, their worth, and their ability to be rehabilitated.
Back to shaking my head. That’s what happens when I read on-line comments about this story. Some people actually think the number reduction is a bad thing!
-I would say it is the overall failure to properly sentence criminals. Too many crimes go unpunished
-Fewer inmates = rise in crime
-Too many soft judges with slap-on-the-wrist sentences.
-They are letting out prisoners that aren't ready to be out
We could get it down even more if we executed all those charged with first degree murder. Sex offenders too!
Dr. Martin Luther King once said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
My tendency was to stop at that quote, and continue my fretting. But, I read on, and then got to this profound statement by Dr. King: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Which means that it’s our turn.
When we see and hear our nation’s leaders using foul language and denigrating national heroes;
When we see and hear those with disabilities and unusual sexual preferences belittled and mistreated;
When human beings of varied colors and ethnic beliefs are reduced in value and care;
When persons behind bars are considered “throw-aways;”
When people praise executions instead of condemning them---
IT’S TIME FOR US TO END OUR APPALLING SILENCE!
In this season of Advent, patience is an underlying theme, as we anxiously await the coming of the Messiah once again. But patience must not be confused with complacency.
May the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate in this season, give us the strength and courage to speak up for the disenfranchised and downtrodden. Now. All of them. Regardless of belief or color or nationality.