A recent letter from the USCCB to U.S. Senators calling for support of federal legislation providing rehabilitation services to released prisoners forgets to remind the senators that criminal behavior is a result of an individual choice, a choice to hearken to Satan rather than God, as the Church teaches:

2852 “A murderer from the beginning, . . . a liar and the father of lies,” Satan is “the deceiver of the whole world.” Through him sin and death entered the world and by his definitive defeat all creation will be “freed from the corruption of sin and death.” Now “we know that anyone born of God does not sin, but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one.”

The Lord who has taken away your sin and pardoned your faults also protects you and keeps you from the wiles of your adversary the devil, so that the enemy, who is accustomed to leading into sin, may not surprise you. One who entrusts himself to God does not dread the devil. “If God is for us, who is against us?”

Retrieved March 6, 2014 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p4s2a3.htm#VII

The American criminal justice system has been providing support services to released prisoners for about 50 years—which have not worked—and the recidivism rate continues to hover at around 70% nationally; about as clear an indication that the support service approach does not work.

Our rehabilitation reentry research page notes several important studies documenting the failure of the service-based approach, https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/evaluation-of-reentry-programs-3/

Perhaps the USCCB needs to call for programs that focus on Church teaching rather than supporting a service-based approach that does not work.

An excerpt from the USCCB news with a link to the letter after the jump.

WASHINGTON—Congress should take an important step to address issues faced by the more than 650,000 men, women and juveniles who reenter society each year from prisons, jails and detention centers. This was the message of the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and the president of Catholic Charities USA in a March 4 letter supporting the Second Chance Act (S. 1690/H.R. 3465).

“Those who return to our communities from incarceration face significant challenges. These include finding housing and stable employment, high rates of substance abuse, physical and mental health challenges and social isolation,” wrote Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Father Larry Snyder in a March 4 letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Archbishop Wenski and Father Snyder wrote that, without necessary support services, these individuals have an increased chance of re-offending.

Retrieved March 6, 2014 from http://www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-047.cfm