I launched this weblog to share my interest in examining the connections between criminology and theology. As we have discovered, there are many connections between what we know about criminal behavior—and what we believe about God. But what difference does it make?
My primary interest is how our beliefs are translated into policies. Are laws enforced fairly? Are courts impartial with regard to race, ethnicity, or income? Are sentences imposed with justice and equality for all? Have efforts been made to restore victims of crime? Do legislators and justice administrators make decisions based upon the best available research of “what works” and “what doesn’t work” for criminal laws and justice policies?
Crime is a major problem in America that creates fear among citizens and affects where we live, work, go to school, where we walk, drive, and more. A large portion of our tax dollars are spent on law enforcement, the courts, jails, and prisons. Despite what seem to be our best efforts the problem of crime persists.
What are we missing? What are we doing wrong? Surely the “greatest nation” can do better, can’t we? For those who believe America is “one nation under God” and who proclaim “In God we Trust” there must be something we’re missing in our “fight against crime.”
Previous blog posts have focused on the connections between American Christian beliefs and criminal justice laws and policies.
There is a “disconnect” between our Christian beliefs and our policies for preventing crime and administering justice. The conflicts and inconsistencies between our beliefs and practices have resulted in justice system policies and practices that are neither just nor effective in attaining our goals.
We have focused on“tough-on-crime” policies that result in disproportionate arrests and mass incarceration of racial and ethnic minorities. Our laws focus disproportionately on persons who possess, use, and sell illegal drugs—most of whom are not violent offenders. We fail to address the widespread proliferation of firearms in our country, resulting in a growing number of deaths and serious injuries to citizens and law enforcement. The cost of building and maintaining prisons is skyrocketing—despite the lack of evidence that prison sentences offer a deterrence to crime.
The news is not all bad. There have always been effective alternatives to incarceration. Many states and the federal government are revising the tough sentencing policies for non-violent offenders.
As responsible citizens we can make a difference in crime reduction and public safety by informing ourselves and supporting lawmakers who push for justice for all. As Christians and persons of faith I encourage us to examine whether our beliefs are consistent with our words and our actions.