September 2019 Newsletter
The Criminal Justice System
50% of all adults in America has had a family member in jail or prison.

66% of prisoners at the federal level and about 50% at the state level are in for drug related offenses.
Calvin College Prison Initiative

27 states allow for people to be charged with "felony murder" even when the defendants did not set out to kill anyone or even play a direct role in the death itself.
American Civil Liberties Union

In a given year, over 160,000 people are incarcerated for a "technical violation" of probation or parole, such as a failed drug test.
The Prison Policy Initiative

In 2018, the US incarcerated 655 out of every 100,000 its citizens. For comparison, Russia imprisoned 415 , England & Wales 142 , France 102 and Germany 77.
Calvin College Initiative

Most American states spend more on their prisons than they do on education.  15 states spend at least $27,000 more per prisoner than they do per student. The leader is California which invests $64,642 per prisoner compared to $11,495 per student - a $53,146 difference in spending priorities. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island round out the top states spending more on prisons.
The Daily Mail

76% of people in local jails are not convicted of a crime, and many are there simply because they can't afford money bail.
The Prison Policy Initiative

On average, a phone call from a local jail costs over 3 times more than a phone call from a state prison . Nationally, the average cost of a 15 minute call from jail is $5.61.  The states with the highest rates are: Arkansas  $14.49 , Michigan  $12.03 , Montana $9.24, Kansas $8.49 & North Dakota $8.20.
Prison Policy Initiative

The Rand Corp. recently completed a study of the effects of education in prison and found the following:
  • Education in prison lowers recidivism rate by at least 43%
  • Increases chances of employment by 28%
  • For every $1 spent on education, reduces incarceration rate by $4-5
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
What a World Without Prisons
Could Look Like
A TED Talk, featuring Deanna Van Buren, who designs restorative justice centers that, instead of taking the punitive approach used by a system focused on mass incarceration, treat crime as a breach of relationships and justice as a process where all stakeholders come together to repair that breach. Van Buren creates dynamic spaces that provide safe venues for dialogue and reconciliation; employment and job training; and social services to help keep people from entering the justice system in the first place. Watch now.
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
Ministry to the Incarcerated
By Henry G. Covert. Examines the environment of the incarcerated - emphasizing particular areas of inmate stress and how they impact upon the inmate's spiritual formation and the role of the Church in offering encouragement, healing and transformation. Calls for staff education, environmental improvements, and a pastoral presence that facilitates rehabilitation and hope,rather than discouragement and punishment. Finally the book provides examples of biblical themes that can promote healing and regeneration among prisoners, drawing specifically on the teachings of Jesus. Read more.
For more on the Criminal Justice System ,
River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey
By Helen Prejean CSJ. Tells the story of one of the foremost leaders in the country to abolish the death penalty -- leading to her publication of Dead Man Walking -- including relationships with friends, fellow nuns, and mentors who helped shaped her along the way. Shares the story of her growth as a spiritual leader and the addresses some of the challenges confronting the Catholic Church today. Read more.
For more on Capital Punishment , click here.
Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking (COHAT)
COAHT consists of more than 30 national and international Catholic agencies working to eliminate human trafficking . They have recently updated their tool kit which contains sample letters to the editor, social media samples, prayer intercessions, and community engagement ideas. Learn more .
For more on Human Trafficking , click here.
A Sin By Any Other Name:
Reckoning with Racism and the Heritage of the South
By Robert W. Lee. A memoir that chronicles what it was like growing up in the South as a descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee -- an experience colored by the world of the white Christian majority -- and describes the moments that highlighted the privilege, racism, and subversion of human dignity that came with it. Touches on the widespread nostalgia for the "Lost Cause" and gradual awakening to the unspoken assumptions of white supremacy which can, almost unknowingly, distort ones values and even faith. In particular, the book examines how many white Christians continue to be complicit in a culture of racism and injustice.
For more on Racism , click here.
Why Governments Should Prioritize
A TED Talk featuring First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, who explains the far-reaching implications of a "well-being economy" -- which places factors like equal pay, childcare, mental health and access to green space at its heart -- which challenges the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the ultimate measure of a country's success. Shows how this new focus could help build resolve to confront global challenges. Watch now.
For more on Economic Justice , click here.
Cost of Living Calculator
A practical resource from The American Institute for Economic Research, this tool provides simple comparisons of how much money is worth using any two years. This can be particularly helpful for calculating the value of the minimum wage or federal poverty levels over time. Learn more. 
For more on the Minimum Wage , click here .
Women Entrepreneurs,
Example Not Exception
A TED Talk featuring reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, who argues that women running all types of firms -- from home businesses to major factories -- are the overlooked key to economic development. Watch now.
For more on Gender Inequality , click here.
A Catholic Response to Global Warming
By Steven J. Coleman. A resource from the Catholic Climate Covenant, designed to provide a basic understanding of Catholic Social teaching on care of creation, the science of global warming and the actions one can take to fight climate change.
For more on the Environment , click here.
If All the Earth's Ice Melted
A short, animated map from Business Insider that shows what American cities would be flooded by rising sea levels. Watch now.
For more on the Environment , click here.
Green Home DIY
A comprehensive "Do It Yourself" site with lots of ideas to simplify life -- starting with what a "simple life" is & reasons for simplifying, to tips for food, health, entertainment, cleaning, traveling, work, social life, and the bottom line. Learn more.
For more Simple Living resources, click here.
I See You:
How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People
By Terence Lester. Calls us to see the invisible people in our lives, through personal encounters and real-life stories that challenge Christians to become more informed about poverty and homelessness, and to see the poor as Jesus does. Read more.
For more Justice resources, click here.
Radical Forgiveness
By Antoinette Bosco. The author shares what she has learned abut life's most difficult, and most healing virtue. Shares the story of losing a son to suicide and another son and his wife to murder, and the dramatic journey to forgiveness and inner peace. Suggests that readers free themselves from the anger and resentment that chains us to those who hurt us, including ourselves. Read more.
For more Forgiveness resources, click here.
The Carter Center
In partnership with Emory University, the Center is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. It seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health. Learn more. 
For more Peace resources, click here.
Peace Direct
An international charity dedicated to stopping wars, one person at a time. In conflict zones around the world, they support local people to stop violence and build long term peace. Also offers Peace Insight, an interactive online mapping of local peace-building organizations in the U.S. and around the world. 
For more Peace resources, click here.
Important Dates This Month
Individuals Honored This Month
September 5th
If you can't feed a hundred people,
´╗┐then feed just one.
September 14th
On behalf of my outraged Christian conscience, I raise my voice in protest [against the treatment of Jews], and I assert that all men, Aryans and non-Aryans, are brothers because they have been created by the same God; that all men, whatever their race or religion, have the right to be respected by individuals and states. The present anti-Semitic pressures flout human dignity and violate the most sacred rights of the human person and family.
September 22nd
Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves.
September 30
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.
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