In confirmation of what anyone familiar with criminal intelligence knows, prisoners can function intellectually, as this article from the New York Times reports; and it is also why the prison ministry Lampstand has developed is based on an intellectual approach to evangelization.

Lampstand detailed the approach in the published book: “The Lampstand Prison Ministry: Constructed on Catholic Social Teaching & the History of the Catholic Church”, available free as a Lampstand Member (see this blog’s About page for membership info) or purchase from Amazon at

An excerpt from the New York Times article.

Otisville Correctional Facility is a medium-security state prison, 79 miles northwest of Manhattan, on the site of a former tuberculosis sanitarium — with an equalizing element of portent, near the town of Mount Hope. Many of its prisoners are serving life sentences; they are men whom time, as one guard put it “has mellowed out.” Nearby, but unrelated, is the Otisville federal prison, named by Forbes Magazine as one of America’s “cushiest” incarcerators. Observers have likened it to a college, which is not an analogy you would easily draw at the state prison, where inmates rely largely on encyclopedias for the retrieval of information, in volumes that look as if they were last current when the nation was debating the merits of Dan Quayle.

Still, an intellectual firmament has taken hold. On a recent afternoon, 10 men gathered under the tutelage of Baz Dreisinger, a professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, to share some of their writing and to talk about the Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” One of the students, Theron Smith, serving time on a second-degree murder conviction, noted that Freire’s work called to mind Hegel and the theory of double consciousness. Mr. Smith is an avid consumer of sociological texts; his longtime friend Rowland Davis, next to him in class that day, has immersed himself in theology. Another student had been creating an elaborately illustrated graphic novel.

In nearly every instance, when the men read from their own compositions, the writing was absorbing, learned and impeccable. All of the men had gained admission, through a competitive application process, to a program initiated by John Jay three years ago that allows prisoners who have high school diplomas or G.E.D.s, and who are eligible for release within five years, to amass college credits, and then when they leave, to complete degrees in the City University system. Ms. Dreisinger is the program’s academic director and founder, overseeing the teaching of art history, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Toni Morrison and so on. She is adamant about the instruction of grammar, which is why the men’s writing stands out even beside what you might find among students at elite high schools where a warning about dangling modifiers is often considered a benighted waste of time.

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