The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #31

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Grassroots Organizations & Subsidiarity

“In the United States the founding of organizations helping prisoners began with churches, and were primarily managed by the wives of pastors or prominent businessmen who were members of the church.

“They were very close to the individual prisoners and criminals they helped as they worked within their church community. Over time these organizations grew and became more professionalized as did the nonprofit sector.

“By the middle of the 20th century, when the major source of funding for criminal helping organizations had shifted to government, management had largely become social service professionals from the ranks of college sociology departments.

“Their influence had many disastrous effects within the work of criminal rehabilitation and all other social work with the marginal.

“Whatever success had been accomplished before the tenure of the sociologists—through the government sponsored Great Society programs developed and funded by President’s Kennedy and Johnson—turned to dust during their thirty years of leadership. By the 21st century any program working with criminals that could point to a well-documented, rigorously evaluated and significant success were essentially non-existent.

“However, sociology breaks down—in its defining of reality—as surely as in defining of deviancy, as it is merely that, a definition based on an ideology rather than truth, solid revealed truth—from before the foundation of the world. 

“For most traditional rehabilitation programs, the concept revolved around adding insult to injury. The initial injury, from the criminal’s perspective, is the arrest, jail and prison confinement. The insult is presenting rudimentary behavioral norms—not even believed by the culture—in a sophomoric way to street-savvy people who are a captive audience. The criminals respond to evaluative surveys with how much they like the program, they are rehabilitated, and can I go home now? Starkly put, this is the state of too many traditional rehabilitation programs.

“Recently however, returning to its roots, the nonprofit human service sector began government funding of faith-based organizations under the rubric of compassionate conservatism.

“This is essentially the concept of subsidiarity in action, that those closest to the problem could best develop solutions to it.

“However, as yet there isn’t any evidence of much success with faith-based programs, according to recent meta-analysis.

“That is also the case with faith-based efforts in a more focused way, that of faith-based job programs.

“I would contend this is more the result of faith-based efforts that are not sectarian, but are so generalized due to the legal barriers to conducting faith-based work, that they are essentially neutering their primary effectiveness benchmark, that of conversion.

“The principle of subsidiarity, also notes the often negative consequences—as were evident from the Great Society programs—that can arise from excessive state intervention.

“In seeking conversion from a criminal culture deeply valued by its members—particularly its leadership—it is imperative that this closeness govern action.

“Within the mystery of the criminal culture, regardless of the vast amount of cultural material describing it allowing outsiders to believe they comprehend its internalities, the deepest markers for understanding are experiential, and it is only from that basis that cultural understanding can emerge.

“Culture Only Criminals Understand

“When the culture becomes criminalized, the only ones who understand it are the criminals.

“Culture criminalized—as it largely is today—is a milieu criminals move confidently in.

“A criminalized world is a world built upon traditional criminal phenomena of predatory acquisition, the untrammeled satisfying of sensual urge, and violence—real or threatened—as a major negotiating tool.

“Some of the criminalization of culture in my time upon this earth, springs from those words and ideas flowing from the false sense of freedom and individuality surrounding the beat period—as shaped by Burroughs, Ginsburg and Kerouac, which laid the foundation for the 1960’s—expressed primarily against the institution of the Catholic Church which, ironically, most strongly protects that freedom and individuality through its social teaching.

“Great joy was felt when the poem—censored as obscene—Howl by Allen Ginsberg, was smuggled into the nation’s prisons, as it was into Englewood Federal Correctional Institution when I was there, at the clear message that criminals were, after all, the “best minds of my generation”.

“In the dull and dreary cement encased confines of prison, this was a revolutionary document and under no conditions would it have been allowed to be read openly by the criminals imprisoned there as anyone reading it could see what it glorified and ultimately portended.

“We have gone far beyond that attempt by society to censor material in today’s world.” (pp. 127-130)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #30

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Criminals & the Church

“From the very beginning, criminals played a major role in the Church—the good thief Dismas being an early example—and another was the transformed criminal who became pope, St. Callistus (died 222). His experience-based decree selection caused a severe political break in the Church with those inflexible Christians who saw no chance for redemption for some sinners, but Callistus restored its heart of mercy and redemption when he decreed forgiveness for major sinners after confession and penance, against the wishes of many early Christians.

“This inflexibility and strict adherence to the language of the Church’s law rather than the spirit of it marks some brief moments in the history of the Church, as of all institutions, but none walks the talk as does the Church.

“Hippolytus, the leader of those who attacked Callistus throughout his papacy was the anti-pope who came back to the Church, eventually becoming one of her fathers.

“Hippolytus attacked Callistus with venom, and what struck me reading about his attacks and the ferocity with which they were raised, considering the great admiration most Catholics felt for Callistus, leads to the conclusion that perhaps what most troubled Hippolytus was that Callistus, a common criminal, was getting the honor he felt he, Hippolytus, deserved.

“Callistus, as a redeemed criminal, understood better than most that redemption was always possible and Christ’s message was, if it was anything, that all could be forgiven.

“However, as Pope Callistus allowed many who had committed major sins to return, after proper penance, to the fold of the Church, Hippolytus and his supporters were enraged, feeling even the committing of one major sin precluded future involvement with the Church.

“The powerful denouement to this wonderful story of two men—one pope and one anti-pope—in the early days of the Church; was that upon being imprisoned for claiming himself as pope in reaction to the acts of Pope Callistus, Hippolytus later redeemed himself, primarily as a result of the same sort of imprisonment once suffered by Callistus, and the knowledge gained from his suffering there.

“Callistus spoke to the heart of the Pharisees of his time with his goodness and forgiveness of sinners they would not forgive.

“Another early Church leader who spoke out against Pope Callistus’ action in readmitting penitential sinners to the Church was Tertullian, a Father of the Church.

“The consequences of Pope Callistus’ policy, which also involved some struggle over the primacy of Rome in setting Church policy—in this case for those who had lapsed under persecution—reverberated through the early Church.

“This continual history of forgiveness and acceptance forms the ground for a significant aspect of our work; developing a case for the use of Catholic social teaching in the transformation of criminals.

“In the discussion I had with criminals who were cultural leaders in the criminal world over the twenty years I was involved in that world, one thing usually became clear once we got down to the real reasoning around the decision to become a criminal; “everyone’s doing it”.

“Believing that the upperworld rewards criminal behavior just as much, if not more, than the underworld, the choice to become a criminal is not difficult. It is a matter of either accepting the way the world is or becoming good at dealing with it, or ignoring it and becoming a fool who is taken advantage of by it.

“The institutions that would stand against this truth of the world and present eternal truth, too often show, upon examination, feet of clay.

“However, with a presentation of the world of Catholic social teaching through the Magisterium and the Chair of Peter, this misconception can be addressed and the natural human tendency to move to what is true can be reinvigorated.

“One of the clearest expressions from Peter through the recent centuries that stood against the truth of the world, is that regarding slavery.

“There is no doubt that slavery is against God, the Law, and the Prophets, no doubt at all. But Christ, who did not speak out against slavery, was not a revolutionary come to overturn the social structure within which slavery was an accepted part of daily life. He rendered to Caesar that which was Caesars.

“It is this type of institutional clarity, carried out through time that will resonate with other criminals as it has with me, let alone the multitude of recent converts to Catholicism who have found in the intellectual storehouse of the Church a great call home.” (pp. 124-127)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #29

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“OD, the Natural Language of Nonprofits

“One of the more important disciplines the deep knowledge leader can study to increase his capability to develop and manage an effective grassroots nonprofit criminal transformative organization, is Organization Development (OD).

“OD and the mission-driven organizational imperatives of nonprofit Criminal Transformation Organizations (CTOs) share common values and complementary realities.

“This congruence represents opportunities for the deep knowledge leadership of CTOs and OD practitioners.

“Nonprofits serve the public good, they provide a public service, and they are humanistic by definition.

“CTOs are generally grassroots nonprofit organizations who act as organizational change agents transforming criminals and their communities.

“In the United States, there are over a hundred thousand human service nonprofit organizations.

“Within that large group there are probably several hundred that could be classified as CTO’s in some way—though I have not found any statistics to provide proof for that assertion—as many deal with some aspect of criminal transformation as part of their related mission work, for instance, an organization that deals with drug/alcohol addiction or homeless issues will often be dealing with former or current criminals who are addicted or homeless.

“While the deep knowledge leaders of CTOs are driven by their mission, bringing passion and commitment to their cause, they are often lacking in the internal organizational capacity building tools needed for sustainability. The specific tools they are most deficient in are strategic planning, fund development, board & staff development, and communications & marketing, all of which can benefit from an OD perspective.

“OD values include humanism, collaboration, cooperation, participation, knowledge of self and awareness of one’s impact, empowerment of individuals, groups, and organizations, and social responsibility/sustainability.

“CTOs can achieve individual and community transformation most effectively when embracing their own values as applied to their own organizational functioning.

“This will affect the governance, strategy, and fund development capability of the board and staff, which directly impacts the mission fulfillment—the core reason for their existence—of the nonprofit organization.

“An example where some of the basic techniques of OD can be helpful is in creating a learning community, using group work to help clients, sharing life experiences, mentor board and staff members, and board members, sharing educational/vocational and life experiences, mentor clients.

“Co-creating an environment where the inherent corrosiveness of the criminal world can be mitigated through the inherent self-responsibility of the board and staff member’s world—deepened by the shared experiences of clients—leading to an organizational culture of mutual learning and healing in a transformative setting.

“I have worked with several small CTOs where this inability to connect the staff and board to the criminal world has dramatically affected the ability of the organization to help its criminal client base, particularly in growing to scale and organizational effectiveness.

“Individuals with humanistic ideals self-select into both non-profit environments and OD careers, actively choosing settings they feel congruent with. This would indicate that nonprofit staff and board may be open to operating according to OD values, but do not have the exposure or tools. If they did so, they would be modeling and enhancing mission work, and becoming more congruent with the natural language of the nonprofit world.

“Individual development, organization development, and development of the social environment cannot be truly separated; they are reciprocal. Many CTOs fail because they haven’t transformed themselves.

“OD has traditionally been marketed to for-profit organizations but CTOs are more able to realize the values aspirations of OD, and at a higher level of congruency.

“The absence of a profit motive creates deeper ground for the enactment of OD and its values.

“The CTO is a problem-solving entity which heals.

“CTOs—animated by a mission of individual and community transformation—will benefit from discovering a mission of management imbued by values-driven transformation, consistent with the values and practice of OD.

“The Grassroots & Criminal Transformation 

“Rehabilitating criminals is big business in America and there are ideas and programs continually being promoted that show some initial success which the federal government then attempts to scale up to national import.

“This is a familiar pattern when dealing with criminal rehabilitation and appears doomed to the continual failure it has traditionally been, because of the tendency—most marked in those who develop new programs that do work—to move on from direct service success at the grassroots level to administrative positions at the corporate or governmental level, taking their energy, insight and dedication with them.

“There is also a lack of effective succession planning among grassroots nonprofits.

“Reformed criminals—particularly those who have gained deep knowledge—however, have a level of connection hard to break.

“Regarding criminal reentry, we certainly have the social need, with hundreds of thousands of criminals being released annually to the community with virtually no record of successful reentry programs to help them. The triggering event could be the government and criminal justice professional practitioners asking for the reformed criminals help.

“Those who have restored their life can help others restore theirs; the solution is often found within the mirrored image of the problem.

“The reformed criminal could begin the process of preparedness by advancing into graduate level college work and organizational management training.

“This could also begin to counter—during output—the deadening reality of the relative speechlessness of criminals in their interaction with the criminal justice system during input.

“A current trend that will only continue to accelerate and which will require even deeper understanding of those who would help criminals transform is the increasing transparency of criminal records.

“The Home News Tribune, a New Jersey newspaper was the first to allow criminal record searches for free from its website. These searches, which can normally cost from $10 to $50 through the private sector, put public record criminal information online.

“This is a good public service, and while it is appropriate for the public to know about the background of criminals it has to deal with through hiring, renting, volunteering with, and attending church with; the public attitudes around being involved with people with criminal records creates another significant hurdle in the reentry process.

“The only effective response to this is a public openness about one’s past by the criminal transforming his life, and those transformed criminals working in the field will be modeling openness through their behavior as deep knowledge leaders.” (pp. 120-124)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #28

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Teaching from Suffering

“The preeminent example of teaching from suffering is the cross.

“Acknowledging the value inherent within the suffering from imprisonment that can deeply enrich the process of criminal transformation is one of the most important aspects of Lampstand’s work.

“Without prison suffering—gateway to the penitential process—corresponding to the suffering of the criminal’s victims; the professional criminal has not built the foundation for the future work of transformation.

“The movement towards the penitential is the movement of the natural law growing within us.

“Within Catholic history the use of imprisonment, and the benefits of the suffering it has generated, have brought us precious flowers of knowledge. 

“Catholic criminal transformative work should be supported by Catholic institutional resources until its effectiveness is determined. The optimal sought would be government support of Catholic faith-based efforts for a specified trial period, determine which is most effective and direct more funding there.

“One major benefit of working with criminals in determining the effectiveness of transformative programs is that criminal records are available through criminal justice data bases, unlike virtually any other segment of social work.

“Using the reentry period of three years—or ten years as our marker—we can tell if involvement with our suggested Catholic faith-based program works by looking at arrest records over the three or ten year period.

“The constitutional prescriptions allowing this can be built upon the same freedom of religion foundation currently allowing single-faith service and ritual within prisons.

“The current legal issues surrounding the use of Catholic faith-based efforts will go on, but it is in the public interest to determine what is effective with reentering prisoners, as major public safety issues and large sums of public money are at stake.

“We might have as much at stake in this effort and determining what works as we do in the military action embarked upon by our national government. We should consider if it is within national public priorities to be expending proportionately appropriate evaluative resources in determining program success with criminals at home, as we are with terrorists abroad. 

“Criminals who transform their lives can become intellectuals, philosophers, theologians and attain the highest honor on earth, sainthood; as witnessed by Dismas, Mary Magdalene, and Pope Callistus.

“Many saints undergo a period of suffering that can help those of us who study the lives of the saints see the power of the light that comes from the deepest darkness.

“The dark night of the soul is life without God, and for some of us, no internal sense that God exists, though happening rarely, even extremely rarely, would be horrible and few would survive it with faith intact, but those who do, are greater for it, as they have lived that of which Christ spoke, the knowing that you are a child of God, and that with the proper growth to the light, will return home to God for eternity, making this short abode on earth the reality it is.

“The Grassroots                        

“It is said that Satan, faced with the intrusion of eternal truth into the world, attempts to institutionalize it, thereby ensuring it is ignored by the public.

“The leaders of individual transformational grassroots organizations are the social entrepreneurs of the nonprofit sector. They have discovered an aspect of eternal truth and organized others around it for the good of the community. The community, who needs their passion and commitment, is best served by their being able to keep closely aligned with their core values, vision, and their truth (mission) as they evolve into a community institution.

“While one of the goals of all grassroots organizations is—or should be—to become institutionalized to the point that community support becomes a stable given, it is too often precisely the point at which they become much less effective as a mission-driven organization. The truth often gives way to the expediency of becoming stable and solvent. 

“Criminal transformation and so often, community transformation, emerges from the small, grassroots organization, through the work of a few committed individuals coming together for a great cause. It is from the grassroots that individual dignity is protected, hope encouraged, and communities strengthened.

“The leaders of these organizations are the true inheritors of the voluntary associations of virtue and service to the public good that Benjamin Franklin brought to fruition in colonial America, and Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at in the 19th century in his landmark book, Democracy in America.  

“When I think about what defines a grassroots organization generally, I think back to this initial formation: mission-driven, entrepreneurial, voluntary and community-based. The truly real grassroots organization begins in the heart of one person who has witnessed injustice and wants to remedy it, or been moved by beauty and wants to share it, or gained wisdom and wants to teach others, or transformed the pain of their suffering into the power of teaching and comforting others.

“These leaders often begin without any money, but have an idea to help—in some way—the world they see in front of them. Through their passion and dedication they bring others along with them in their journey of healing and begin the process of transformation.

“If they are wise, lucky, and committed, they and the organizations they create, will survive and grow strong, and we will be the richer for their struggles, as they bring their healing service to our troubled world. If they succumb to the lure of financial stability over the purity of their vision and mission, we will ultimately be the lesser as their promise of healing becomes the maintenance of the status quo. 

“Eric Hoffer, a longshoreman who worked in San Francisco for many years, wrote a book called The True Believer. His thesis was that the true believers, who strive for a belief to the exclusion of all else, are to be feared for they are the soil from which political and religious fanaticism springs. There is much truth in this, but at the same time, it is the true believer who drives the social mission onward. It is they whose passion and true beliefs drive a social agenda that enriches us all.

“The role of the grassroots organization is to shake the establishment, it is to be true to a mission of truth, to venerate that truth and express it through love for those who need help, through justice in honor of their suffering, through sharing beauty and the joy of artistic discovery, and through community building in pursuit of the transformation of the great human heart of the commons, and a most proper place, perhaps the only place, for the transformation of criminals.” (pp. 116-120)


The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #27

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Crime Belongs to Caesar, Criminals to God

“While the response to the crimes criminals commit in the world belongs to Caesar and there is no choice in the matter; the response to the individual human being who is the criminal, his transformation and redemption—which is purely a matter of choice—belongs to God.

“The social and legal structures the state creates around human beings are not as important as the human being. What is defined as crime and how it is to be responded to by the state is the concern of Caesar as the state, but the Church is called to inform those decisions of the state through the knowledge implicit within its social teaching.

“The criminal world in the United States began to become a well-organized and coherent entity during the generation between World War I and World War II. By the period between the Korean War and the Vietnam War—wars being appropriate markers for its development—it had become a large, powerful, and virtually permanent aspect of American culture.

“This is not a situation unique to this country or this time. During medieval times the underworld was well developed in Europe, as it was in Regency England. What is different is how the carceral world has become the prime cultural shaper of the criminal world, developing criminal world leadership unprecedented in our country.

“What this means in terms of developing policies able to actually address criminal behavior with any hope of redemption and transformation, is that transformed criminal leadership—the only individuals with deep understanding of the criminal world—must become involved in the transformative process.

“One of the most important reasons for that involvement is that the development and management of traditional rehabilitation efforts is—as some studies are clearly revealing—actually enhancing criminal behavior rather than reducing it.

“Involving those who are part of the process in the leadership is similar to the business world’s effective use of organizational development knowledge, ideas growing from, among others, Mary Parker Follett’s concept of power-with rather than power-over.

“What works in the business world facilitating the organizational aspects of transformation however, is not what works in the spiritual. In the spiritual we are called to revealed truth, absolute, clear, and final; truth which all human beings—including criminals—are hard-wired to seek.

“That spiritual call is to the Catholic Church. 

“There is a great tradition among the popes to speak to prisoners, offering them hope and redemption through prayer and intervention.

“Lighting the Path 

“The work of the Lampstand Foundation is specifically directed towards those transformed criminals, who are able, through inclination, redemption, education, and skill, to become a grassroots organizational leader who can generate the transformation of other criminals.

“For optimal use, it is important to understand for whom the work of Lampstand is intended, from where those leaders would come, and what identifiers would reveal them to us.

“Our work is directed to penitential criminals who are Catholic or potential converts who, because of their leadership in the criminal world, will have significant success and impact in the work of criminal transformation.

“Those offenders, whose crimes are such that they would be included in this Gospel message of Christ, do not occupy those positions of leadership in the criminal or carceral world:

“[Matthew 18:5] He who gives welcome to such a child as this in my name, gives welcome to me. [6] And if anyone hurts the conscience of one of these little ones, that believe in me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck. [7] Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences! It must needs be that such hurt should come, but woe to the man through whom it comes!”

“The path being lighted can only be traveled by reformed criminals who are Catholics, and this work is created for them. The effectiveness of criminal transformative teaching is dependent upon a deep understanding of the principles of Catholic social teaching, which is only possible by being devoutly Catholic.

“From our perspective, we use the term professional criminal to refer to those individuals who committed crimes for money, to whom crime was a way of life and prison time an occupational hazard. We are also speaking of professional criminals who have spent at least five years in a maximum-security prison—the benchmark of professional criminality after arrest and conviction

“It is from these criminals that the leadership in the carceral world comes and it is from them that effective reentry leadership will also come.

“Each population has a certain percentage from which effective leadership usually emerges and it is no different within the criminal/carceral world.

“There are certain characteristics and criminal/carceral experiences that serve as the foundation of criminal world leadership and others that preclude someone from being perceived as a leader.

“Criminal/carceral world leaders are not informers, do not commit crimes against children and women, nor allow themselves to be victimized by others, particularly in prison.

“There are many people who have served time in one type of prison or another—an honor farm, a medical facility, or a minimum or medium security prison—who have developed and manage prisoner rehabilitation efforts, but have not developed the leadership within the criminal/carceral world which give them either the stature or gravitas to become an effective rehabilitation practitioner. 

“Criminals become part of the communal community when they make the choice to transform themselves, to create from within a different person than what they were previously; a person whose motivation is based on eternal truth, only found in the Catholic Church, the City of God, than the truth of the world, the city of man.

“Rehabilitation is not a proper word for this process as it implies a return to something that previously existed—professional criminals are by and large born into the criminal world—and sets the entire criminal transformation process on the incorrect intellectual setting, which is partly the reason for its continued failure in the United States.

“The community being reentered is the community of the Catholic Church—triumphant, suffering, and militant—and for transformed criminals involved with their apostolate of transforming others, it is the only community, beyond their family, needed.

“Traditionally reentry is a three-year period after release from prison when about 70% of criminals in the United States return to prison. Reentry is often used to designate those released from any type of criminal justice sanctioning, probation, parole, jail or prison release, but we use it specifically in reference to those professional criminals released from a maximum security prison (or a transitional prison after serving the bulk of their time in a maximum security facility).

“We also use a ten-year period of reentry as it allows for the fuller development of transformative behavior—and a more accurate reflection of return statistics— than the relatively short three-year period does.

“The reason Catholics need to be involved in transformation and reentry is because Catholicism is the only faith based on truth, a solid and robust enough truth—eternal truth, real truth, truthful truth—to provide a strong enough contrast to the truth of the world—sense truth, perceived truth, relative truth, truth-built-on-lies truth—to attract criminals, who whatever their faults, seeing things incorrectly based on what it is they know is not one of them.

“While there are many small criminal transformative organizations and ministries developed and managed by individual religious, or orders, there is not, nor has there ever been that I am aware of, a criminal transformative effort developed and managed as part of the institutional, universal Catholic Church; and that is shameful.

“Within the Catholic Magisterium, the social teaching, that body of documents primarily built upon papal encyclicals, tradition, and scripture, is the robust story that destroys the lie the world’s truth is built on, the world truth criminals have built their lives on.

“The knowledge about the city of men—the criminal city—and the City of God, so precisely presented to us in the Gospels, is amplified through the works of the early church fathers, and in the case of the criminal who builds his life on the truth of the city of men rather than the City of God.

“The catechesis of the criminal brought through the social teaching—Catholic doctrine presented in universal terms—works, because within the social teaching is found the unbroken line of truth that connects one to the beginning of the truth of creation and the institution housing it, still remaining true to those ancient roots; something that can be said of no other institution on earth.

“The criminal will find that Christ specifically speaks to him and his entire sinning world, who has been deceived into believing the truth of the world, and living by the rules of men in the city of men, which the criminal does more boldly than the rest.

“Being able to speak from brotherly love, the reformed criminal—who once deeply enjoyed many aspects of his criminal life—knows the failure of active love in the oft quoted “love the sinner, hate the sin” in a life where identification with the sin is often deep.

“The process, for non-Catholic criminals, of coming into the Church, is not the instantaneous event Protestants proclaim.

“Instead, it is a strenuous year-long process of catechesis that represents the true ritual of transformation every redemptive criminal (and every convert to Catholicism) need traverse, ending ultimately with the sacramental forgiveness of all sins.

“The Church truly dwells in the human interior—in the communion with Christ—not in the human community, and through its interiority guides the walking of the talking.

“For centuries the criminal, like Cain, could be banished, or voluntarily disappear, begin again as a new person, even during recent times and recent criminal lives that possibility existed, but no more.

“Now all are connected and all crimes rest on the knowing electric conscience of the world and the only rebirth is through baptism.

“Now, we all come in our ancient ways to fields love alone blooms.

“Today, even outside of prison, the criminal is panopticized, backlit, fully visible, only requiring the eye of the examiner gazing upon the digital data summoned from the great maw and storehouse of the electric world.

“Contemplating this, even if having begun an internal transformation, often renders change moot. Labeled and exposed the criminal too often accepts reality and returns to crime, or hopefully, turns to a friend.” (pp. 110-116)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #26

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Catholic Criminal Reentry, Formation & Transformation

“Those who have suffered injustice are often best suited to advocate for justice.

“In the process of criminal transformation, the social teaching of the Church and the relationship it creates with the Magisterium, can play the very important transformational role community often does.

“The social teaching becomes the community wherein the contemplative leaders refresh themselves, as the liturgy builds strength within, feeding the soul.

“The difficulty with the evangelical approach to criminal transformation is that it is counter to the internal motivation of criminals which is bold rebelliousness; strongly self-centered to the point of pursuing criminal acts which, by their nature, involve those attributes of self-will precluding a bending to evangelical exhortation.

“The social teaching approach introduces concepts which are actually very congruent to the criminal’s view of himself, while critical of the very same worldly institutions he often sees allied against him; and most importantly, stresses a calm and still small voice approach rather than the salemanistic exhortation.

“There is also around the exhortative approach a scent of the coercive, the Elmer Gantry like rock-ribbed persuasion built upon a vision of ever-lasting hell and damnation.

“Coercive techniques may suppress crime, and in the case of imprisonment, certainly do; but they are virtually worthless for transformation.

“Getting to the social teaching—in addition to calling for voluntary action—requires a clear, concise explanation of the truth of the Catholic Church, and what ultimately decided it for me was a series of facts beginning with the positions of the world’s major religions founders.

“Of the historically real founders of the great religions of the world, only one, Jesus Christ, proclaimed himself God— rather than a prophet as Moses and Muhammad, or an enlightened man, as Buddha—whose Godhood was extensively substantiated by contemporary witnesses.

“The others are founded upon the life of a human, and I did not see how a religion, whose defined role is to direct us to knowledge of God, could proclaim truths from any other source than God.

“I chose to believe that Jesus Christ, the founder of the Catholic Church, founded the religion whose primary purpose is the presentation of the knowledge of God.

“In Christ’s proclamation of himself as God, he established his Church upon the rock of Peter and the gates of hell would not prevail against it, and the Catholic Church stands still, buffeted yes, shook to its very core many times yes, but still stands, the pilgrim church.

“So, this was my first step, accepting the truth of a man who said he was God and contemporaneous witnesses validated the miracles he performed which only God could do; and had founded a Church which still stands.

“And now we come to the teaching, the social teaching of the Church—of the Kingdom of Heaven—that great body of work that has passed down to us from the beginning, through the old covenant into the new.

“This justice, this solidarity, moves down through the history of the Church, speaking out for the respect of the dignity of all human beings under God, protecting the dignity even of the criminal, virtually from the beginning.

“The development of the Magisterium through the expression of the papal encyclical is about as clear a development of how things should be in the world, as the chronicles of the world are about it as it is.

“The City of God and the city of men; one clings to us and one calls to us, and in our striving toward transformation we need support.

“We have the support of the Magisterium of the Church, which can become the community from which we draw our strength, where we can retreat to when suffering, seek advice when confused, and find solace when troubled.

“In my work, I’ve learned that the path to transformation exists in and goes through the city of man, which scripture teaches is the city created by Cain, the first criminal, and whose ruler, even now, is Satan, the prince of this world.

“Transformation through Christ is a narrow path, beset on all sides by the great temptations of the prince’s world, which we see even our sacred priests struggling to resist.

“It is a path through our interior life and emanating from our interior life, particularly if our interiority is strongly built on the sacraments, continual prayer and study.

“Love illuminates the path, as we have been taught. It is the great commandment, the divine way, and the great light on the path.

“Transformation is an interior process and this interior relationship with the Magisterium is now, on account of web-based technology and access to global resources, able to be reinforced and developed with the help of the entire universe of human knowledge.

“I have found the deep interiority of the Latin Mass to be of great benefit, where the knee is bent and the head is bowed, and alone in my silence with the priest and the Latin, I am part of the sacrifice in a profound way and all of the works which go to make up the social teaching are presented to me weekly through the readings and the prayers from so long ago. 

“The larger body of Catholic thought that makes up the social teaching originated from before creation, was carved in stone at Sinai, was refined by the Sermon on the Mount, was preached throughout the ancient world by the Apostles and was recorded in the New Testament.

“It is centered on the sacredness of the human being and the eternal nature of the associated rights, responsibilities, and duties of human beings created by God in their relations with one another and in the societies we create to live and act together in this world.

“It tells us to be humble, kind, loving, and in a tremendous enrichment of the Sinai covenant, teaches us that even to harbor anger in our heart towards our enemy is to be judged:

“[Matthew 5:21] You have heard that it was said to the men of old, Thou shalt do no murder; if a man commits murder, he must answer for it before the court of justice. [22] But I tell you that any man who is angry with his brother must answer for it before the court of justice, and any man who says Raca to his brother must answer for it before the Council; and any man who says to his brother, Thou fool, must answer for it in hell fire.”

“From this, and through the centuries of turmoil, of dissolving empires, of the barbaric hordes sweeping through Europe and North Africa, and of the Babel-like splitting from her, the Catholic Church held clear to the central themes of human dignity and respect due each individual person from before the foundations of the world were set.

“The family, the crux of human development, was formed and created as the consensual norm it is through the influence of the Catholic Church through the ages.

“St. Callistus, St. Augustine, and all of the fathers and doctors of the Church, formed and shaped the teaching through the centuries.

“In the modern era, the work was collected in the papal encyclicals, beginning with that of 1891, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (On the Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor).

“This was an important intellectual shaping of the labor movement, which had seen Labor Day designated as a holiday in New York on September 5, 1882, and the national designation by act of Congress in June of 1894, making the first Monday in September their day.” (pp. 105-109)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #25

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Liberation Theology

“This important movement in the Church, which began in Latin America, while focusing attention on the plight of the poor, deviated significantly from Church teaching and played a role in the revolutionizing of criminal leaders. It was corrected through the work of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in its Instructions of 1984, 1986, and the 2006 Notification on doctrinal errors in two of the books by Father Jon Sobrino, SJ, one of the intellectual leaders of liberation theology. It has played an unfortunately large and very distractive role in the development of the social justice movement in the United States, in particular with its too strong reliance on the tenets of Marxism rather than of Christianity.

“Liberation theology’s focus on the poor has helped create a political slant too much of the work around social justice in the Church and, rather than helping the marginal as it is meant to do, it actually hurts them by allowing an idea that social conditions are responsible for their predicament rather than personal choices.

“It also has tended to set up an adversarial relationship between poor and rich which is harmful to both, and directly contrary to the essential Catholic message of loving and praying for our neighbor

“Liberation theology replaces the spiritual core of the Church’s teaching focused on changing the individual heart with material goods, focused on changing the structure of the state by taking the Church’s care for the poor and conflating the Church’s message of liberation from the oppression of sin with the Marxist message of liberation from oppressive social structure.

“Liberation theology makes the same mistake as the Catholic monarchists—that the gospel is worldly—which breaks completely from the clear truth Christ gave us in the gospel:

“[Matthew 22:15] After this the Pharisees withdrew, and plotted together, to make him betray himself in his talk. [16] And they sent their own disciples to him, with those who were of Herod’s party, and said, Master, we know well that thou art sincere, and teachest in all sincerity the way of God; that thou holdest no one in awe, making no distinction between man and man; [17] tell us, then, is it right to pay tribute to Caesar, or not? [18] Jesus saw their malice; Hypocrites, he said, why do you thus put me to the test? [19] Shew me the coinage in which the tribute is paid. So they brought him a silver piece, [20] and he asked them, Whose is this likeness? Whose name is inscribed on it? [21] Caesar’s, they said; whereupon he answered, Why then, give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

“The things of this world—most implicitly including the material realization of politics—are of Caesar, are of the prince of this world, while the spiritual force informing and animating them are of God, are of the King of Heaven.

“For example: The Church will not correctly call for the state to obtain permission from it prior to passing a law outlawing abortion, but it will always call for the state to legislate the outlawing of abortion.

“It is about free will, free choice. We are born with it, it is hard-wired into us, it is why the criminal always chooses to be a criminal or not.

“While the internal criminal world is essentially congruent with capitalism and family values, most of the external actors who claim to speak for the criminal world are largely representatives of Marxist and statist values.

“Recently, the emergence of external actors whose perspective is somewhat more congruent is seen in the faith-based organizations.

“The development we hope to encourage is that of a transformation of criminal world leadership, who will speak for themselves,

“However, here there awaits one important danger to avoid. We must ensure that our focus on the transformed criminal, as perhaps the most marginalized of the poor, does not fall into the error liberation theology did.

“We must go beyond liberation theology by still fighting to change the system that brutalizes human beings, but as Peter guides us, by writing—praying—speaking—walking the talk.” (pp. 102-105)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #24

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“The Criminal City




(Dante Alighieri’s Inferno III: 1-3)

“The criminal city is the city of men—first mentioned in Genesis—after killing Abel and being sent out by God as a vagabond:

“[16] So Cain was banished from God’s presence, and lived as a fugitive, east of Eden. [17] And now Cain had knowledge of his wife, and she conceived. She called her child Henoch; and Cain built a city…[Genesis 4:16-17]”

“Jacques Ellul writes about this, how Cain substitutes God’s Eden with his own city, in his wonderful 1970 book, The Meaning of the City, which I encourage you to read.

“Abel leaves no children as this is not to be a world of the righteous by blood, only by action; for it is only Cain’s line that survives of the first sons and his line is that of the prince of this world, the true father of all cities.

“The city is a metaphor of predatory human behavior—founded by the first predatory human— where, piling on top of one another with the alpha human in the pyramidal penthouse, it vividly portrays the materialism driving its life, where struggling for money is struggling for life, and struggle is marked by predation.

“In some traditions, the city equals the underworld.

“The first criminal founded the first city of men and it is from that beginning and within those precincts that the truth of the world has grown, forming the criminal city.

“From the truths of the prince of the world, criminals see what is proclaimed and respond, acting boldly, appropriating the goods of men and relishing the corrupted life animating the criminal city.

“The very heart of the city of men—the criminal city—is the prison and the criminal’s carceral eyes sees the proclamations of greatness given to leaders in the world who violate their own precepts openly and whose fortune and fame have also been built upon deceit and crime, but whose wealth ensures greatness within the criminal city.

“Would a criminal then become a fool and not steal and lie if the truth of the world is the only truth he knows? For he has not yet comprehended the great and certain truths of the Catholic Church resonating through the centuries since its birth on the shoulders of Peter from the blessing of Christ.

“To move from the criminal city, the beginning of transformation and redemption, the Gospel teaches what lies in store for us:

“[John 15:18] If the world hates you, be sure that it hated me before it learned to hate you. [19] If you belonged to the world, the world would know you for its own and love you; it is because you do not belong to the world, because I have singled you out from the midst of the world, that the world hates you.”

“The criminal will not move from the comfortable confines of the criminal city he knows, to the unknown city hated by the world, except in the company of friends—reformed criminals—who’ve traveled the path before him.

“The truth of the unknown city of human aspiration lies close to the hidden heart.

“Many, like the poet Rimbaud and the Russian mystic Rasputin, venture in benighted search for enlightenment through degradation; a search glorified in the 1960’s.

“The sense that restraint causes repression—the founding idea of the 1960’s—comes straight from the pagans.

“And given the Puritan founding of American culture, a strong indictment of the foundational formative praxis of our culture has been, and continues to be, delivered by many.

“For too much of our history and for too much of our criminal justice system, the prison has served as too much of a model of the nuclear bomb and mutually assured destruction has come with it.” (pp. 100-102)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #23

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“The Carceral & the Criminal World

“One of the most significant developments in the criminal justice system over the past few decades is the impact of the carceral on the criminal world.

“The American prison creates its own environment, its own world, which spreads outward, embracing the terrain where the released wander predatorily, continually reshaping and remaking the criminal world in its own evolving image.

“As the number of criminals moving from the carceral to the outside world—becoming a critical mass in some neighborhoods—the influence of the carceral world spreads to that neighborhood, further criminalizing it.

“In California the development of the criminal world related to the carceral is strongly congruent and the confused evolution of the California prison—from punishment to rehabilitation and back, and back once more—forlornly retains the uncertainty of the institutional world and the clarity of the criminal world within the carceral.

“The carceral world looms underneath the criminal world—holding it up as it were—shaping the criminal world’s leaders as they pass into and out its steel gates

“Mastering the carceral experience within the maximum-security prison is a culturally defining experience determining criminal strength, tenacity, and boldness, much as similarly defined for the non-criminal through mastering the social, athletic, and intellectual rigor of the maximum prestige academy.

“And yet the prison is also the most penitential of institutions—so correctly analyzed in its reverential and redeemable components—but rarely seen by Marxist oriented criminal justice academics (who have been shaping the narrative of the American academy since the 1970s) as that place of exclusion and penance which it is, but more often through the lens of theory critically finding dark motives and capitalistic strategies at work. 

“Transformation had once been considered a desirable aspect of the prison time given to the criminal, and the transformation was to be hoped for as a pure result of prison itself.

“For the first century of America’s experience with prisons, deeply influenced by religion, it is understood that this occurred more often than not, as we understand from the book, Criminal Justice and the Catholic Church, by Dr. Andrew Skotnicki, who notes a conjectured 10% recidivism rate.

“Since the 20th century, with its corresponding complexity induced by the majority of humans living in the urban environments of the criminal city; prison induced transformation lost ground as a new meta-narrative extolling criminal exploits became part of the social fabric.

“In the time we live in, with ethnic, religious, and national myths being folded and blended with the outlaw as hero, a much more convoluted terrain emerges, requiring guides to traverse.

“The answer is in the problem. The answer is within the outlaw mind.

“From a Catholic historic perspective, the prison performs a necessary penitential and reformative function, an attribute still relied on yet rarely seen.

“For the public, the need for the prison is more than the rational reaction of fear to that uncertainty arising from dangerous men and women, and how to be protected from them. It is also the shutting away of that which is feared, the other, which public criminal justice policy too often allows to grow without responsibility while assuming that the real cause of crime is something vague out there, rather than individual predatory thoughts shaping individual predatory actions; rather an individual moral decision than an unconscious reaction to social forces.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in prisons in the United States representing untold millions of crimes committed, many unaccounted and uncharged, for the criminal as supreme opportunist commits much more than he is ever arrested, charged, and committed for; a danger deep as the ocean.

“In my work as a capacity building consultant to nonprofit organizations, when the strategic discussion concerns the continued utility of a specific course of action, I will bring the discussion back to the founding vision and mission of the organization and from that base, try to determine if indeed, the course of action under discussion is still appropriate.

“The founding mission of prisons—punishment and redemption— has not lost its utility, nor the use of cellular confinement and separation of the criminal from the innocent as a protective and penitential response as well as a redemptive stimulation.

“The growth of the carceral culture within the criminal world is a dangerous influence which is manifest, and increases as criminalization deepens through carceral influence on cultural reality.

“Combat and the rules of strategy are important capabilities criminals share with the military—of being able to distance yourself from your emotions and what your body wants to do when confronted with prison or war—for then you have to will yourself to act, separating yourself from the urge to panic, if you are to survive, whether in prison or battle.

“How one responds to the carceral is a crucial element in the development of criminal world leadership as is that of the soldier in battle crucial to military leadership development. 

“Criminals who have transformed their lives must speak and help shape the future formation of criminal justice so that it may reach its aspiration of protecting the public and reforming criminals—not currently happening with a 70% recidivism rate—which has little to do with tending to unconsciously generated symptoms, but much to do with transforming suffering into teaching.

“The criminal world’s leaders understanding is that the criminal is punished for being in congruence with the same reality accepted as true by the punishers.

“Within the maximum-security prison where criminal world leadership serves time, there exists a long-term solitude-generating contemplation, intimately woven through the Catholic pursuit of spiritual perfection.

“For the criminal prior to transformation, this contemplation revolves around the purity of their attachment to the truth of the criminal world, their life in the city of men, most dreadfully realized in the prison itself.

“The prison is the truth of the city of men writ hard, writ clearly in steel and stone that none can misunderstand its moment or its animating core reality.

“This lays unconsciously under the day-thoughts of most whose work calls them to develop policy around the prison and criminal world—and the politics around prisons are strong—but in the continual struggle around their use and purpose.

“Over the past 70 or 80 years in this country, since the depression of the 1930’s, a criminal culture has developed which has become impenetrable, so that attempts by traditional criminal rehabilitation practitioners are—and statistics bear this out—a dismal failure.

“Attempting to describe this world for those practitioners so that they can find success in it is probably not a fruitful avenue at this moment in rehabilitative history, but the development of reformed criminals, who are carceral cultural leaders, to advance their education and training in helping other criminals transform their lives, would be.” (pp. 96-100)

The Criminal’s Search for God, Excerpt #22

Continuing the daily serializations of my 500 page book: The Criminal’s Search for God: Catholic Reformation of Criminals, .

Today’s Excerpt.

“Catholic Criminal Justice, the Beginning

“Crime is essentially a theological problem and it is only within theology that evil—the deepest dimension of crime—can be addressed. It is evil which must concern us in addressing crime, and we must recognize that evil rarely reforms, but most professional criminals can and will; given a reason and shown the way.

“The first crime was Cain’s slaying of Abel and the first murderer was punished by banishment—used as long as there were faraway places but with a planet digitally one world, prison is banishment—with a mark so no one would harm him and Cain became a builder of cities where crime grew, even through the deluge its spirit clung to earth.

“The entire Cain-Abel murderous sequence lays the ground for what has followed in the criminal world since.

“We see the anger and envy that desires the others death, the acceptance doing well generates, the separation from God sin creates, and the curse sin lays upon man’s life even to the ground upon which he walks, the mark of protection that Cain’s life may not be taken for Abel’s life, the criminal as eternal fugitive and wanderer, and the building of the city of men, the criminal city, home to the criminal world since.

“Cain, in his greed would not share the first fruits of his work, and Abel, in his generosity shared the first fruits readily. Cain did not know that the spirit of the gift was more important than the flesh of it.

“The first expression of the criminal law that became the fullness of the Church, embracing all Jews and Gentiles entering the Kingdom of God, is found in Exodus 20:22 to 23:33, the Book of the Covenant.

“[Exodus 20:22] And the Lord gave Moses this further message for the Israelites: You stood watching while I spoke to you out of heaven; [23] it is not for you to make yourselves gods of silver or of gold. [24] It is enough to build me an altar of turf, on which to present burnt sacrifices and welcome-offerings, of sheep or oxen, wherever my name is honoured; so I will come to thee, and give thee my blessing. [25] Even if thou shouldst make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; to use any tool in the making of it is to profane it. [26] And when thou goest up to my altar, thou shalt not mount by steps, for fear of exposing thy body’s nakedness.

“[Exodus 21:1] And these laws, he said, thou shalt promulgate to them. [2] If thou dost buy a slave that is a Hebrew by race, he shall do thee six years’ service, and in the seventh year, without any ransom paid, he shall go free. [3] He shall leave thy service in the same guise in which he entered it; if he came to thee married, his wife shall go free with him. [4] But if his master has assigned a wife to him, and she has borne sons and daughters, this woman and her children shall belong to the master; the slave shall go free in the same guise as before. [5] It may be that the slave, for love of his master, and of his own wife and children, will refuse to take his leave; [6] if so, his master shall bring him before the judgement-seat, and then fasten his ear with an auger to door or door-post, in token that the man is his slave in perpetuity. [7] If anyone sells his daughter into a man’s service, she is not to go free on the same conditions as a slave. [8] The master to whom she has been made over may send her away, if he has no liking for her, but he may not sell her to foreign masters; he has done her despite enough already. [9] He may betroth her, if he will, to his son; but if he does that, he must treat her as his daughter; [10] and if he finds his son another wife instead, he must marry the girl off, and give her clothes, and make all amends for the loss of her virginity. [11] If he is not prepared to do these three things, then she must go free, with no ransom paid for her.

“[12] Whoever kills a man with intent to kill, must pay for it with his life. [13] But where there was no malice aforethought, and God provides the occasion, he shall be allowed to find refuge in such place as I shall appoint for thee. [14] One who lies in wait on purpose to kill his neighbour shall be torn away even from my altar to die. [15] Death is the penalty for one who kills his father or his mother; [16] death is the penalty when a man is shewn to have carried off his fellow-man and sold him; [17] death is the penalty for one who curses father or mother.

“[18] Two fall out, and one is struck with a stone, or with the fist, not fatally, but so that he must take to his bed; [19] must the man who struck the blow be held guilty? Only till the other is well enough to get up and walk abroad with a stick; but he must compensate him for his loss of work, and for the doctor’s charges. [20] When a man beats his servant or his handmaid to death, if death follows at once, he must pay the full penalty; [21] but if they survive for a day or more, he shall go unpunished; the loss is his. [22] If men fall out, and one of them strikes a woman who is pregnant, so that the child is still-born, but she herself lives, he must pay whatever sum the woman’s husband demands, and the judges agree to; [23] if her death follows, then life must pay for life. [24] So it is to be; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot; [25] burning for burning, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. [26] If anyone gives servant or handmaid a blow on the eye, so that the sight of it is lost, he must set them free in return for the sight he robbed them of; [27] or if he knocks out a tooth, he must let servant or handmaid go free by the same title.

“[28] If an ox gores a man or woman to death, it shall be stoned, and the flesh of it is not to be eaten. But the owner of the ox shall be held innocent, [29] unless the ox has been using its horns for some time past, and he has refused to shut it away when appeal was made to him. Then, if the ox gores man or woman, it shall be stoned, and he too shall be put to death, [30] unless a fine is imposed on him instead; if so, he shall pay whatever ransom is demanded for his life. [31] The parents shall have the same claim upon him, whether it be a son or daughter of theirs the ox has gored; [32] if it has attacked man-servant or woman-servant, the owner must pay thirty silver pieces, and the ox must be stoned. [33] If a man who has opened an old well, or is digging a new one, does not cover it up, and ox or ass falls into it, [34] the owner of the well shall pay the full value of the beasts; the carcase he may keep for himself. [35] If one man’s ox is wounded by another’s, and dies of it, they shall sell the live ox and share the price of it, dividing the carcase of the dead ox between them; [36] unless it has been known for some time past that the live ox was using its horns, and the owner has not kept it under control. If so, he shall restore ox for ox, and keep the whole carcase for himself.

“[Exodus 22:1] The man who steals ox or sheep and slaughters or sells it, must make restitution at the rate of five oxen for one, and four sheep for one.

“[2] When a thief is caught breaking into a house, or digging under the walls of it, the man who deals him a fatal wound is not guilty of murder, unless the deed was done after sun-rise. [3] If the sun be risen, there is murder done, and life must pay for life. The thief who has no money to make restitution with, must himself be sold as a slave.

“[4] If something stolen, ox or ass or sheep, is found alive in the possession of the thief, he shall make restitution twofold.

“[5] If anyone damages field or vineyard by letting some beast of his feed on another man’s property, he must make good the estimated loss out of the best crop in his own field or vineyard. [6] If a fire breaks out and catches among thorn-bushes, setting light to heaps of grain or to corn standing in the fields, the man who lit the fire must make good the loss.

“[7] Where money or goods entrusted to a friend’s keeping have been stolen, the thief, if he is found, must make twofold restitution. [8] If he cannot be found, the owner of the house where they lay in keeping shall be brought before the judgement-seat. He must swear that he laid no hands on his neighbour’s property with malicious intent. [9] Be there a loss of ox or ass or sheep or clothing or any other kind of property, the two parties shall come before the judgement-seat, and the defendant, if he is found guilty, shall make twofold restitution. [10] If a man entrusts his neighbour with ass or ox or sheep or any other beast for safe keeping, and it is killed or wounded or carried off by enemies, with no witness to the fact, [11] the matter shall be settled by an oath, which the owner shall accept, that the other did not lay hands on his property; there is no restitution to be made. [12] But where the loss is due to theft, the owner shall be compensated. [13] If it has been killed by a wild beast, the carcase must be brought before the owner, and no amends made. [14] Where a man has borrowed any such beast of his neighbour, and it is maimed or killed in the owner’s absence, compensation must be made to him; [15] but not if the owner himself was present, and especially if hire was being paid for the work the beast did.

“[16] One who seduces a virgin not yet betrothed, and beds with her, must give her a dowry and marry her, [17] unless the father will not give her in marriage; then amends must be made, equivalent to the dowry which a virgin customarily receives.

“[18] Sorcerers must not be allowed to live. [19] The man who is guilty of bestiality must pay for it with his life. [20] Sacrifice is for the Lord alone; he who offers it to other gods must be put to death.

“[21] There must be no harrying or oppression of the aliens that dwell among you; time was when you too dwelt as aliens in the land of Egypt. [22] You must not wrong the widow and the orphan; [23] wronged, they will cry out to me for redress, and their cry will be heard. [24] My anger will blaze out against you, and I will smite you with the sword, making widows of your own wives, orphans of your own children.

“[25] If thou dost lend money to some poorer neighbour among my people, thou shalt not drive him hard as extortioners do, or burden him with usury. [26] If thou takest thy neighbour’s garment for a pledge, thou shalt give it back to him by set of sun; [27] it is all he has to cover himself with, his body’s protection, all he has to sleep under. He has but to cry for redress, and I, the ever merciful, will listen to him.

“[28] Thou shalt not revile the powers above thee, or speak ill of him who rules thy people.

“[29] There must be no delay in paying tithes and first-fruits. Thou shalt make me an offering of the first son that is born to thee, [30] and with thy oxen and sheep thou shalt do the like; for seven days the dam may keep her first-born, after that it must be offered to me.

“[31] You are to be men marked out for my service. Meat that has once been tasted by wild beasts shall not be used for food; it must be thrown to the dogs.

“[Exodus 23:1] Never must thou take up a false cry, or join hands with the guilty by giving false witness in their favour. [2] Never must thou follow with the crowd in doing wrong, or be swayed by many voices so as to give false judgement; [3] even pity for the poor must not sway thee when judgement is to be given.

“[4] If thou hast an enemy, and findest his ox or his ass going astray, take it back to him. [5] Here is one that hates thee, and his ass has fallen under its burden; do not pass by, help him to lift it up.

“[6] Do not give false judgement when the cause of the poor is tried. [7]Keep clear of untruth. Do not bring death on an innocent man that has justice on his side; I give no countenance to the wrong-doer. [8] Beware of accepting bribes; they blind even the prudent, and disturb the judgement even of just men. [9] Do not oppress the alien; you know what it is to be an alien, since you yourselves were exiles in the land of Egypt.

“[10] For six years together thou mayst sow thy land, and gather the crop from it; [11] in the seventh year leave it alone, to lie fallow, and give thy poorer neighbours food; all that is left, the wild beasts may eat. And thou shalt do the like with thy vineyard and thy oliveyard. [12] For six days together thou shalt do the tasks thou hast to do, and on the seventh leave off working; so shall ox and ass of thine have rest, home-born slave and alien that works for thee revive their spirits.

“[13] Observe all these commandments of mine, and never take an oath by the names of alien gods, or let such names be heard on your lips.

“[14] Thrice a year keep holiday in my honour. [15] There is the feast of unleavened bread to be observed; for seven days, in the first month of spring, the month of thy rescue from Egypt, thou shalt eat unleavened bread in obedience to my command. Then thou shalt present thyself before me with gifts. [16] And there is the feast of harvest, when the fields thou hast sown reward thy labour with first-fruits; and another feast at the end of the year, when the last of thy crops has been gathered in. [17] Thrice, then, in the year all thy men folk must present themselves before the Lord thy God.

“[18] When thou offerest living things in sacrifice to me, the bread that goes with them shall not be leavened, nor shalt thou leave the fat of my victims unconsumed till the morrow.

“[19] The first-fruits of thy land must be brought to the house of the Lord thy God. Seething a kid in its dam’s milk is a rite forbidden thee.

“[20] And now I am sending my angel to go before thee and guard thee on thy way, and lead thee to the place I have made ready for thee. [21] Give him good heed, and listen to his bidding; think not to treat him with neglect. He will not overlook thy faults, and in him dwells the power of my name. [22] If thou wilt listen to his warnings, and do all I bid thee, then thy enemies shall find an enemy in me, and those who shew thee no mercy shall find me merciless. [23] So this angel of mine will go on before thee, leading thee on into the land of Amorrhite and Hethite, Pherezite and Chanaanite, Hevite and Jebusite; and all these I will destroy. [24] Do not bow down to their gods and worship them, or follow their customs; sweep them away, and break down their monuments. [25] All your loyalty must be for the Lord your God. So I will enrich thee with the bread and the water thou needest, and keep sickness far away from thy company; [26] there shall be no unfruitfulness in thy land, no barrenness; and I will grant thee a full span of days.

“[27] I mean to make the fear of me go in front of thee, bringing destruction upon the whole people thou goest to meet; all thy enemies shall turn their backs before thee. [28] I will send in hornets first, to make cowards of Hevite and Chanaanite and Hethite before ever thou goest in. [29]Only I will not drive them out before thee all in one year; that would make a wilderness of the land, and the wild beasts in it would multiply, to thy harm. [30] I will make them yield little by little before thy onset, so that thou wilt have time to increase, and populate the land. [31] The frontiers I give thee are the Red Sea and the sea of the Philistines, the desert and the river Euphrates. All the inhabitants of the land shall be at your mercy, and I will drive them out before you. [32] Thou shalt make no treaty with them, nor with their gods. [33] They must not share thy territory, or they would persuade thee to commit sin against me, by worshipping their gods; no doubt of it, they will ensnare thee.

“Today, reading this, we can still see the divine wisdom guiding the Jewish people so soon after their freedom from Egypt.

“The Great Commandment is the foundation of all of these:

“[Matthew 22:34] And now the Pharisees, hearing how he had put the Sadducees to silence, met together; [35] and one of them, a lawyer, put a question to try him: [36] Master, which commandment in the law is the greatest? [37] Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and thy whole soul and thy whole mind. [38] This is the greatest of the commandments, and the first. [39] And the second, its like, is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [40] On these two commandments, all the law and the prophets depend.

“Every criminal act is personal, from a person it comes, from an idea shaping action, from desire and want, and as it moves from the person into the world, assaulting our neighbor—whom we have been instructed by the Great Commandment to love—it becomes crime against the justice balanced between individuals and the world, the justice we all have an inalienable right to expect, the God–infused dignity each of us deserves from each other.

“The foundational ideas of Catholic criminal justice are punishment, penance and reform, return, and reinstatement.

“The Decalogue defines the wrong requiring punishment, prison time is the penitential place and program, and reentry—though still being sought in its new manifestations of success, though one can see the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) as a model—the ritual path to communal reentry.

“Many criminal justice scholars, who are attempting to come to terms with their own fear and trepidation about prison, see it as a central animating concept to modern life; and prison’s punishing reality, where the most intimate violation and the terror clouding men’s minds is thus objectified, shaped, and placed within comfortable theories and explanatory ideologies; most remarkably of course by Michael Foucault’s Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, where he finds elite power as the ultimate and underlying reality of the carceral and the larger world; indeed, the central animating factor.

“From the traditional Catholic perspective on criminal justice, the animating factor is justice. Seeing prison as the shaper of criminal/carceral world values, the central animating factor of Catholic criminal justice is the human being, the redeemable human being, shorn of his terror-creating presence and humble in the sight of God, a quiet neighbor to men.

“We see how the classic expressions of justice from Catholic social teaching and tradition inform different aspects of the criminal path—distributive (fair social distribution of resources, the criminal feels it is his right to steal)—commutative (to each his own)—with the prison as penitential (justice for crime, do the crime, do the time), yet the criminal will rarely consider transformation, and transformative justice (seeing distance from God, spiritual interiority, the relation with our creator as root cause, as the city of men defines the truth as he lives it) and he must learn or, more correctly, be taught and embrace the eternal truth which will lead him out of the criminal city.

“In the history of the saints of the Church we see great transformative stories.

“We know the first criminal to become a saint was Dismas, the Good Thief—crucified on the right hand of Christ—who Christ took with him from Calvary to heaven.

“The first criminal to become a Pope and later saint, was Callistus I who died a martyr but was Pope for five years, from 217 to 222.

“The first Catholic criminologist was surely St. Augustine, who in his developed reasoning around the city of men in his masterpiece, The City of God, essentially lays out the world whose truth criminals embrace in their descent into the criminal/carceral world.

“It is fitting that the United States is a country where Catholic Criminal Justice might form strong roots—for though the term has possibly been used elsewhere, it is most congruent here, in America, where the prison world has grown in ways rarely imagined

“The United States, even before it was the United States was a Catholic land, especially the vast southwestern region owned by Mexico.

“In California, the locus of the American prison system and its most defining metaphor, the first civil governor was a devout convert to Catholicism, the lawyer Peter H. Burnett, who wrote the remarkable book: The True Church: The Path Which Led a Protestant Lawyer to the Catholic Church; Christian Theory, Doctrine and Discipline in 1860.

“Again, the concepts animating Catholic Criminal Justice are original justice, communicative justice, legal justice, distributive justice and social justice

“This understanding of justice and its different aspects embraces the entire range of idea and polices that undergird Catholic Criminal Justice.

“For most of the criminals who know what they are doing is wrong but do it anyway, they justify that crime had to be done as there was no other way to survive. Thus, the truth of the world—all that matters is survival—often dictates criminal actions.

“Sin is ultimately a distance from God and the criminal suffers from his distance from God.

“Sin is of the world and the criminal embraces the truth of the world.

“The criminal/carceral world is ancient, built on cultural artifacts from the beginnings of civilization.

“The criminal/carceral world is understood only by its members and understood most completely by its leaders.

“Punishment for crime is appropriate and penitentially necessary.

“Restorative justice, with its roots in Old Testament practice, encounters the problem of removing the penitential from justice, and, except in very minor crimes or civil violations, it has no provision for punishment in the ancient sense of removal and banishment which the prison serves as the modern equivalent.

“All criminals are redeemable, but not all evil people are, for some who are too hopelessly lost to Satanic evil that only God can free them; not humans, not even humans acting for God.

“Though there have always been Pharisaic movements in the Church to excommunicate most sinners—as during the second century by the purist Hippolytus—there have also always been Popes such as Callistus, the former criminal, to resist them and keep the Church always balanced on the fulcrum of love Christ set as the foundation stone.

“Redeemed professional criminals who have served at least five years in maximum security prisons, and after release transformed their life through higher education, training in grassroots organizational management, reconciliation or conversion to Catholicism, and educated in Catholic social teaching—those I call deep knowledge leaders—are the only individuals with the experience, passion, dedication, and criminal/carceral world knowledge, able to develop and manage programs that transform other professional criminals (those who commit crimes for money representing the majority of criminals) effectively.” (pp. 83-96)