As we settle in to the most wonderful time of the year, we wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; and we’ll resume blogging January 9th.
As we settle in to the most wonderful time of the year, we wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; and we’ll resume blogging January 9th.
From the Brennan Center, a liberal think tank helping promote the misleading narrative that the United States incarcerates too many people though our recent past policing and incarceration policies have resulted in the biggest reduction in crime rates over the past few decades.
Here is an excerpt from the study, virtually wrong on all counts; and reading my analysis of the mass incarceration narrative should help clarify that.
An excerpt from the study.
While mass incarceration has emerged as an urgent national issue to be addressed, the reforms currently offered are dwarfed by the scale of the problem. The country needs bolder solutions.
How can we significantly cut the prison population while still keeping the country safe? This report puts forth one answer to that question. Our path forward is not offered as the only answer or as an absolute. Rather, it is meant to provide a starting point for a broader discussion about how the country can rethink and revamp the outdated sentencing edifice of the last four decades.
This report is the product of three years of research conducted by one of the nation’s leading criminologists, experienced criminal justice lawyers, and statistical researchers. First, we conducted an in-depth examination of the federal and state criminal codes, as well as the convictions and sentences of the nationwide prison population (1.46 million prisoners serving time for 370 different crime categories) to estimate how many people are currently incarcerated without a sufficient public safety rationale. We find that alternatives to incarceration are more effective and just penalties for many lower-level crimes. We also find that prison sentences can safely be shortened for a discrete set of more serious crimes.
Second, based on these findings, we propose a new, alternative framework for sentencing grounded in the science of public safety and rehabilitation.
Many have argued that regimented sentencing laws should be eliminated and replaced with broad judicial discretion. Others counter that this would reinstate a system wherein judges are free to deliver vastly divergent sentences for the same crime, potentially exacerbating racial disparities and perpetuating the tradition of harsh sentences.
This report proposes a new solution, building on these past proposals. We advocate that today’s sentencing laws should change to provide default sentences that are proportional to the specific crime committed and in line with social science research, instead of based on conjecture. These defaults should mandate sentences of alternatives to incarceration for lower-level crimes. For some other crimes that warrant incarceration, they should mandate shorter sentences. Judges should have discretion to depart from these defaults in special circumstances, such as a defendant’s criminal history, mental health or addiction issues, or specifics of the crime committed. This approach is grounded in the premise that the first principle of 21st century sentencing should be to protect public safety, and that sentences should levy the most effective, proportional, and cost-efficient sanction to achieve that goal. It aims to create more uniform sentences and reduce disparities, while preserving judicial discretion when needed.
Our proposed sentencing defaults for each crime weigh four factors:
A very good article from Crisis Magazine in this time of uncertainty, and when are we not in a time of uncertainty.
Anything that begins with the thought of C.S. Lewis is good, actually, is excellent.
In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis argued that all the celebratory talk about man’s increasing ability to control nature had a dark side in which some men took control over other men with nature as the instrument. But, so long as the Judeo-Christian understanding of man was dominant, it would be difficult for tyrants to control man by controlling his nature, which was God-given and not under man’s control. However, once the belief that man was created by God, capable of knowing the good, and capable of freely choosing it, or not, was undermined, the abolition of man—as understood in the West—would become possible.
Seventy-five years later, we can see many signs of Lewis’ prophesy becoming reality. All of the sciences of man, animated now by unspoken philosophies of atheism, materialism, and determinism, relentlessly chip away at the foundations of the Judeo-Christian understanding of man under the banner of science, freedom and progress. Such efforts look to show that the choices people make are not really their choices at all, but instead are the result of our genes, brains, culture, or position in society, economy, or history. Any place will do, evidently, so long as the source of who we truly are is not to be found in God, or in man’s free will. The source of who we are must be such that they can be brought under the control of man, so that some men can control other men.
Many of these scientific materialists and social science determinists will balk at the accusation that they are attempting to show free will to be an illusion, or will back away from the logical implications of their investigations should these be pointed out. Nevertheless, the logic is clear: if it can be shown that we are not the authors of our behavior—as all of these efforts are attempting in one way or another to show—then the moral order is abolished. Put another way, if free will is lost, human society is little more than a very noisy ant colony. At that point, it will be reduced to the sort of thing that sociobiologists such as E.O. Wilson could understand.
Here’s how to make human society fodder for the author of Sociobiology. The first step is to assume, as materialists do, that what we call consciousness, or the “mind,” is generated or caused by the brain. The brain, being nothing but matter, however intricately organized or however large or small it may be, is determined (i.e., comes to exist in a particular state) only as a result of other matter and the forces under which matter operates. Matter, after all, cannot act on its own. It must be acted upon by some force, and reacts to that force according to the laws proper to it. And matter certainly cannot intend, consider, imagine, love, desire, or hate. These are not things matter can do. A brain cannot intend to do something any more than can an adding machine, or a computer. My brain does not get up and walk out of the room. Indeed, it is not even my legs that get up and leave the room. It is I who gets up and walks out. And if there is something right or wrong about my having done so, it is I, not my legs or my brain, that will be rightly praised or blamed for having done so.
Neither our brain nor our legs can gain us admittance into the moral order that is the foundation of human society. By moral order we mean the order of justice, the business of praising and blaming ourselves and others for conduct thought worthy of praise or blame. To live in this distinctly human world means holding and being held accountable for what we do, or do not do, against a standard of right and wrong that we alone do not establish and are not free to ignore without consequences. To participate in a human society at all is to participate in such an order.
As this excellent article from Catholic World Report notes, knowledge of Communism is woeful, and, from the perspective of the Lampstand Foundation, completely misunderstood in relation to the ministry to criminals in prison, as I wrote in my book about it:
What is important—in the context of our apostolate work through The Lampstand Foundation—is not the theory of Communism, “to each according to need”, which many may support; but the influence on criminals from the system of government and its practice under Lenin and Stalin in Russia, Mao in China, and the lessor monsters of our world; practice continuing largely unchanged today except as modified within the constrictions created by the ability of global communications about governmental atrocities making it much more difficult to keep such atrocities hidden now than during the last century; and a governing practice diametrically opposed to the sacred doctrine of the Catholic Church, who Communism sees as its most dangerous enemy.
Communism—in addition to the countries under its capture—is experiencing resurgence among young leftists, as Goldberg (2013) writes:
For those too young to remember the Cold War but old enough to be trapped by the Great Recession, Marxism holds new appeal…
It’s too simple to say that Marxism is back, because it never truly went away. In the United States after the fall of the Berlin Wall, though, it was largely confined to university English departments, becoming the stuff of abstruse, inward-looking and jargon-choked cultural critique. Then came the economic crash, Occupy Wall Street, and the ongoing disaster of austerity in Europe. “Around the time of Occupy in particular, a lot of different kinds of lefties, working at mainstream or literary publications, sort of found each other, started talking to each other, and found out who was most interested in class politics,” says Sarah Leonard, the 25-year-old associate editor of Dissent, the social-democratic journal founded almost 60 years ago by Irving Howe. “We have essentially found an old politics that makes sense now.”
In the United States, of course, Marxism remains an intellectual current rather than a mass movement. Certainly, millennials are famously progressive; a much-discussed 2011 Pew poll found that 49 percent of people between 18 and 29 had a favorable view of socialism, while only 46 percent felt positively about capitalism. It’s hard to say exactly what this means—it’s not as if young people are sending Das Kapital racing up the best-seller lists or reconstituting communist cells. Still, it’s been decades since so many young thinkers have been so engaged in imagining a social order not governed by the imperatives of the market. (n.p.)
Encouraging this revival is a new venture by radical publishers Verso, publications called Pocket Communism, offering several new books on the emergence of the new interest in Communism, which can be seen at http://www.versobooks.com/series_collections/11-pocket-communism
Getting our mind wrapped around this historical atheistic evil requires a journey through the virtual hurricane of words used to describe it and another point: Communism is rarely believed in by the leaders of Communist countries as they are totalitarians and their operating narrative is power; but Communism is used as the operating narrative—virtually a faith system, though atheistic—for the people to believe in; important to keep in mind as we wend our way through the intersection of the Church, Communism and Fatima. (pp. 13-14)
Lukenbill, David H. (2013). Catholicism, Communism & Criminal Reformation. Chulu Press: The Lampstand Foundation, Sacramento, California.
There has been much turmoil around our current pope, even to the point where cardinals are publically questioning his doctrinal stands and asking him to clarify them.
While this appears controversial to many in the Church, it is not because Catholic teaching has always affirmed the right and duty of clerics and laity to raise questions when doctrinal tradition seems threatened.
In centuries past, the Catholic Church took very strong action against such questioning beavior when it appeared to cross over into heresy; even to the point of execution.
Thankfully, that is no longer the case, at least not in the Catholic world, though it is certainly so in other religions and secular theologies.
In America, we treasure freedom of speech, even when it so often results in horrible backlash from the party offended; and we should treasure that freedom even more because of that.
Liberals and uniformed conservatives have long promoted the myth that property offenders are less violent so can safely be released from prisons without serving long terms.
Recent data from the government reveals the fallacy of the myth, as reported by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in their newest Press Release:
Release Date: December 8, 2016 Contact: Michael Rushford (916) 446-0345
BJS DATA: RELEASING PROPERTY OFFENDERS EQUALS MORE VIOLENT CRIME
New data released yesterday by the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicates that property offenders released from prison are rearrested for committing violent crimes nearly at the same rate as violent criminals.
Supplemental BJS data on recidivism for inmates released from prison in 2005 shows that 28.5% of property offenders, such as burglars and car thieves, were rearrested for a violent crime within five years. This figure is only slightly lower than the 33.1% of violent offenders released the same year who were rearrested for violent crimes within five years.
“Nobody should be surprised by this,” said Michael Rushford, President of the Sacramento-based Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. “The notion that property and drug offenders are not dangerous has been disproven time after time.”
In addition to property offenders, the Foundation points to the breakdown of violent recidivism rates among other offenders whom alternative sentencing advocates consider non-violent, such as those convicted of drug and public order crimes. According to the BJS data, over the same five-year period 24.8% of drug offenders and 29.2% of public order offenders were rearrested for a violent crime.
“California’s Governor and supporters of the reduced sentences under his Realignment law, this year’s Proposition 57 and the 2014 ballot measure Proposition 47, have been telling us that locking up habitual thieves and drug dealers is unnecessary because they are not dangerous and can be rehabilitated in our communities. This is an entirely false narrative. The law-abiding public faces more than a one-in-four chance that the car thief getting an early release from prison today will be tomorrow’s violent criminal. Those are unacceptable odds,” said Rushford.
Foundation President Michael Rushford can be reached for comment at (916) 446-0345. Bureau of Justice Statistics data referred to is available here.
This report by Randy Engel, one of the founding warriors in the Catholic cleric sexual abuse war, is instructive, and horrifying.
Father Anthony Joseph Cipolla was born on August 29, 1943 in Rochester, PA, a borough of Beaver County. He was the youngest of five children – Ann, Vincent, Genevra, Anita, his twin sister, and Anthony – born to Ambrose and Albina (Natale) Cipolla. His first parish, where he received his First Holy Communion on June 17, 1954, was St. Titus Church in Aliquippa. It was a heavily mixed ethnic church with German-born, Italian- speaking Father Edward Zauner serving as its long-time pastor. Fr. Cipolla, a country boy, gave credit for his vocation to Fr. Zauner and to his mother, who by every account was a devout Catholic and a kind, generous soul.
That same year, 1954, due to the expanding population in the area, Pittsburgh Bishop John Dearden established a new parish, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, in nearby Aliquippa under Father Cornelius J. Finneran. A small chapel was built on the site in September 1954, but the church was not completed until 1987. It was here that the young Anthony Cipolla learned his catechism, went to confession and attended Mass. And it was here that the Mass of Christian Burial was said for the 73-year-old priest following a fatal auto accident on August 30, 2016.
A Missionary Priest and Boys, Boys, Boys
According to autobiographical data provided by Fr. Cipolla, he wanted to be a missionary priest, not a diocesan priest. At the start of 10th grade in high school, he entered St. Anthony’s minor seminary in San Antonio, TX, operated by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.). However, the distance was too great, plane rides home too expensive and tuition too high. He returned home.
Later, he applied to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (P.I.M.E.) and was accepted at Maryglade College Seminary, in Memphis, MI. He graduated in 1966 and was sent by the missionary order to the Pontifical College Josephinum near Worthington, OH, for his theology training. He remained at the Josephinum for only one the year. Then he left for reasons unexplained.
The next religious order he decided to try out was the Missionaries of the Holy Family (M.S.F), whose special charism is fostering family life. The American Province for the Italian-based congregation sent Cipolla to St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Farmington, MO. When his novitiate year was over, he took his simple vows. The order then sent Cipolla to St. Leonard’s Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, operated by the Franciscan Friars Minor of St. John, for his second year of theological studies. Again he left the seminary for reasons unexplained.
Fr. Cipolla now took a year off and accepted a teaching position at St. Anselm’s parochial K-8 grade school in Dearborn Heights, MI. In addition to teaching religion, geography, English and history he also taught a boys’ physical education class. Cipolla resided in Dearborn, where readers of Part I of this series will remember he took Frank Labiaux and other boys in the summer of 1977 to an auto museum and ended up assaulting the 12-year-old Frank in his motel room.
Fr. Cipolla then returned to the P.I.M.E. Fathers who accepted him back for his final two years of theological studies. He took up residence at the P.I.M.E.’s Queen of the Missions Seminary in Oakland, N.J. and commuted about 20 minutes away to Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, N.J. for his theology classes.
According to Cipolla, the P.I.M.E.’s rector, Father John Barocco asked him to teach religion at the nearby Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and instruct gym classes for 7th grade boys. The money he earned was put towards Cipolla’s tuition.
The young Cipolla also became involved with the Oakland Boys’ Club which had 225 high school and grade school members. He oversaw the club’s sports program and gave an annual retreat for boys at the P.I.M.E.’s seminary. There was also Camp Tamarac where Cipolla took boys on campouts.
Cipolla Ordained as a Diocesan Priest
At the close of his last year with the P.I.M.E. Fathers, Cipolla was contacted by Fr. Finneran, the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, now his home parish, telling the young man that his father was dying and his mother was struggling to keep the family restaurant and bar open. He was needed at home immediately. Fr. Finneran also told Cipolla that he had already talked with Bishop Leonard of the Pittsburgh Diocese and that Leonard was willing to ordain him as a diocesan priest if and when Cipolla returned home.
In early summer of 1972, Cipolla left the P.I.M.E. Fathers and his dream of being a missionary behind. Before he left, the Oakland Boys’ Club held an award dinner in the priest’s honor. Anthony Cipolla was named “Man of the Year,” and the Oakland Chief of Police gave him an engraved plaque in appreciation for his service to the Oakland Boys Club. Cipolla returned home and Bishop Leonard sent him to St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon to get a taste of what it was like to be a diocesan priest. “I was starting to like the idea although I never forgot my desire to be a missionary,” Cipolla said. On Saturday, October 28, 1972, at age 29, Anthony J. Cipolla was ordained by Bishop Leonard for the Pittsburgh Diocese at Our Lady of Fatima Church. On Sunday, October 29th he said his first Mass. During a visit to see his father in a nursing home, Fr. Cipolla blessed him with a relic of hair from Padre Pio’s beard and his father lived another six years. According to Fr. Cipolla, Ambrose Cipolla, who had opposed his son entering the priesthood was now filled with gratitude to both Padre Pio and his son – the priest.
More Red Flags – Fr. Cipolla’s Parish Merry-go-round
During the approximately 16-years that Fr. Cipolla served under three bishops, Bishop Vincent Leonard, Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua, and Bishop Donald Wuerl, in the Pittsburgh Diocese, he was moved from parish to parish – five parishes before he assaulted Frank Labiaux and his stepbrother Tucker Thompson, and two parishes and a home for exceptional children after the diocese learned of the abuse. The priest was never assigned to be pastor of any parish.
The priest remained at his first parish, St. Bernard Church in Mt. Lebanon from 1972 -1974; at Immaculate Conception in Washington PA from 1974–1975, that is, less than a year; at St. Philomena in Beaver Falls in 1975 for just a matter of months; at St. Agatha in Bridgeville from 1975-1976, for less than a year; at St. Francis Xavier on the Northside from 1976–1978, where he sexually abused Frank and Tucker; at St. Canice in Knoxville from 1978-1983 where he was accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy for more than four years, 1982-1986; at St. Philip in Crafton in 1983 for a few months; and finally the McGuire Memorial Home for Exceptional Children from 1983-1988.
According to Rev Ronald Lengwin, the spokesman for the Pittsburgh Diocese, young priests “typically spent five years at each church, but if they were unhappy in their post, it was not unusual to be transferred much sooner.” Clearly, Fr. Cipolla was “unhappy” with most of his assignments and the pastors were “unhappy” with him.