Menu   Email

Roman Catholic Pastoral Services

Prison Reform and Pastoral Care

Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:33-40)

It is in society's best interest to have prisons that protect the health and safety of inmates, because many won't always be incarcerated.


Common sense approaches to making any prison healthier and safer:

  • The safety of the inmate should be the number one priority in a prison. All staff are responsible for the safety of prisoners and should be held more accountable for any lapses in security and observation.
  • Most individuals who are incarcerated have a couple of things in common: most have suffered trauma, and/or neglect - (usually they are fatherless). It would be in the penal system and society's best interest for them to have the opportunity to process their trauma while inside.
  • Something that is sorely lacking, if not completely devoid among inmates (and staff), is any sense of genuine compassion, sympathy and empathy for themselves and especially for each other. Our school system (and our homes) are much the same way - go figure. Most have never learned these thoughts and feelings, or they have forgotten them, but these concepts need to be drilled into these people everyday. It should become part of the whole culture within the penal system. Frontline staff, while carrying out their duties with strictness and firmness, must also be models of compassion, sympathy and empathy.
  • Don't incarcerate first time non-violent offenders.
  • Get rid of mandatory minimums, three strikes, and other rigid, harsh, and extreme sentencing. It's the justice system, not the vengeance system.
  • No bartering, exchanging or borrowing between inmates, and that includes sex. All staff must also be looking out for any coercion between prisoners, especially vulnerable ones (new, young, docile etc.)
  • There should absolutely be no sexual activity (oral and anal) between inmates, and staff should never assume sex is consensual. Owning a person or regularly coercing them for their own benefit is slavery. Homosexuals/sodomites initiating such activity need to charged and labelled sex offenders and dealt with in the strictist terms.
  • Severe penalties (including criminal charges) for staff, all the way up the food chain, who "look the other way".
  • No gang policy.
  • No new tattoos.
  • Remove from penal institutions: all weight lifting, boxing and martial arts equipment. Why? Because you don't want violent inmates to be any bigger and stronger and to be even more of a threat to other prisoners and staff. That's why.
  • Have oversight from at least two human rights groups.
  • Catholic Chaplain should (if possible) visit every new prisoner on the day they arrive. A prisoner should be encouraged to maintain relationship with Chaplain.
  • It's in societies best interest to have safe prisons. If they are not safe, prison staff are not doing their job and have to be held accountable. Prison is a place where dangerous people do time and learn new healthy habits, and not have to live in fear or learn more maladaptive life skills. So in reality, a prison should be one of the safest places on earth.
  • Promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion is necessary in prisons because our Lord teaches us that NO ONE is beyond redemption, no one, no matter who they are, no matter what they've done. God's mercy is available to anyone who is repentant and asks for it.

Read our full list of recommendations: