Sunday, October 11, 2009

October is Criminal Justice Month

Since the fall of 2002, I have visited with over 2,000 of the approximately 70,000 men, women, and juveniles that have been incarcerated in the Hennepin County Department of Corrections for mis-demeanors and minor felonies. And these 70,000 incarcerated in HCDC is a small percentage of those incarcerated in the county, state, federal institutions in the State of Minnesota. One out of every 100 people — men, women, and juveniles — in the United States is currently behind bars. Look around. On your block, in your neighborhood, someone in a family is incarcerated. And this statistic does not even touch the numbers of lives those affected by these offenders — the victims.

For several years now, October has been designated as Criminal Justice Month in the Archdiocese. And this year Archbishop John Nienstedt has again joined with Protestant and non-Christian religious groups in calling attention to the important issues concerning criminal justice and imprisonment. Archbishop Nienstedt says that these issues include “…the need for programs of rehabilitation, education and job training for those in prisons as well as programs for re-orientation and assistance for those who are leaving prison and entering once again into society.” He wishes to especially highlight this year, “…restorative justice…” which “…refers to the personally motivated process that seeks justice where harm has been done. This is done through charitable conversations between offender and victim in order to seek forgiveness and restore peace. . . .”

As in past years I ask for winter coats for those coming out of the Adult Corrections Facility, the Workhouse, this winter. Just drop them off at the Rectory and I will get them to the Workhouse. Also there is a great need for volunteers to tutor and assist in various capacities at both the men’s and women’s units at the Workhouse. This need for volunteers exists at most county and state facilities. If you have an interest, contact me and I will guide you to a facility.

In the spirit of Our Lord’s prayer, I pray that we can forgive others for the hurt and damage done to us. And that we seek forgiveness for our actions.

In Justice and Peace, -Deacon Mike Wurdock, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Minneapolis

If Deacon Wurdock has visited only 3% of those who have been in the Hennepin County lockups over the past seven years, and 20% of the population at large is nominally Catholic, that indicates that there is a need for you to pick up the slack. Visiting prisoners or patients in hospitals can be a very rewarding ministry that you can provide on your own schedule.

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