“The criminal justice system is out of control,” proclaimed Pope Francis to the International Association of Penal Law on October 23, 2014.
Francis laments how societies have become overly punitive, thereby losing the capacity to practice the “primacy of life and the dignity of the human person.”
Sadly, Louisiana is a prime example of a criminal justice system out of control, as the state “locks up more of its people than anywhere in the world.”
Newsmedia headlined the Pope’s call for the abolition of the death penalty and his declaration that the “life sentence was taken out of the Vatican’s Criminal Code” because a “life sentence is just a death penalty in disguise.”
Louisiana serves as exhibit #1 of applying the “death penalty in disguise,” as it incarcerates the highest percentage of inmates serving life sentences without the possibility of parole (LWOP), including some who never committed a violent crime.
As the Times-Picayune observes in an op-ed that underscores the Pope’s message, Louisiana’s “wasteful approach denies any possibility of redemption—throwing away lives but also throwing away money. An offender who begins a life sentence at 20-something and lives to be 70 will end up costing the state $1 million.”
By Dr. Alex Mikulich
Over 100 years ago, in his introduction to The Souls of Black Folk, W.E. B. Du Bois wrote: “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Despite claims that we live in a “post-racial” society after the historic election of Barack Obama, the fact remains that the color line and racial hierarchy endures in the 21st century. At issue for the Jesuit Social Research Institute, from the perspective of Roman Catholic social teaching and thought, is the persistence of disproportionate advantage for white Americans in relationship to pervasive and persistent disproportionate disadvantage for people of color in every sphere of life including health, wealth, income, education, housing, and the criminal justice system. More than one issue among others, the contradiction between Gospel values and practices of racial inequality is scandalous. The contradiction between Roman Catholic and American claims for universal human dignity and equality, and the reality of social, political, and economic advantage that white Americans consciously and unconsciously accept and assume, betrays this scandal. This article continues here.
The Monstrous Elegance of White Supremacy -- Mikulich
Six Myths of Payday Lending -- Mikulich
Race and the 2012 Presidential Election--Mikulich
The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich