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Redeeming a Prison Society

A Liturgical and Sacramental Response to Mass Incarceration

By Amy Levad

Publication Year: 2014

The United States criminal justice system is in a state of crisis, from unprecedented rates of imprisonment and recidivism to the privatization of the prison system and the disproportionate representation of particular racial, ethnic, social, and economic groups, all of which is within a larger social justice context.

Catholics and Protestants have largely failed to offer vital theological responses. Amy Levad offers a Catholic perspective that directly addresses the concrete issues from a strongly interdisciplinary approach and utilizes the rich liturgical and sacramental resources of penance and Eucharist to offer a theological vision of reform.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This book has come about after several years of reflection and research, culminating in a couple of years of intense writing. It would not be complete without acknowledging the numerous people who contributed to it. Colleagues have helped me deepen and hone the argument of this book.....

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pp. 1-10

Caring about people in prison is difficult. We can easily picture incarcerated people as dangerous and dirty, as despicable, as animals in cages. People behind bars are there for good reason—to protect us law-abiding, tax-paying, upstanding citizens from them. We are better off without these people. Good...

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Our Crisis of Justice

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pp. 11-44

Criminal justice systems in the United States are in crisis. Currently over 7.3 million adults in the United States are under some form of supervision, including probation, jail, prison, and parole, by state, local, or federal criminal justice systems.1 At midyear 2009, nearly 1.6 million people were in prison, and...

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Catholic Responses to Our Criminal Justice Crisis

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pp. 45-78

While our criminal justice systems are in crisis, their current state is fundamentally intertwined with a crisis of social justice in the United States. On one hand, our criminal justice systems reflect numerous injustices that mar our society. The creation of mass incarceration is the result of economic,...

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A Liturgical and Sacramental Approach to Justice

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pp. 79-110

Sacramentality—the idea that “everything is, in principle, capable of embodying and communicating the divine”1—lies at the heart of Catholic tradition. While many other Christians share this perspective, sacramentality has particular influence upon Catholic liturgical practices and theological beliefs. With the...

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A Model for Criminal Justice Reform

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pp. 111-148

This chapter explores promising reforms to our criminal justice systems and relates the practices of those reforms to the practices of the sacraments. Based upon liturgical and sacramental ethics, Penance and Reconciliation has actually been the normative means within Catholic tradition for responding to...

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A Movement for Justice

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pp. 149-196

The proposals of the previous chapter are important for responding to crime and individual wrongdoing in ways that reduce reoffending, lead to social reintegration of offenders, maintain public safety, and establish justice for all people affected by crime, especially victims. They provide direction for effective...

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pp. 197-200

To untangle our criminal and social justice crises, we must begin by learning to care about people in prison. Many of us are able to avoid caring about them because prisons lie outside of our immediate realms of experience. Without direct experience of prisons and prisoners, it is easier to maintain the perspective...


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pp. 201-224


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pp. 225-233

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9781451465129
E-ISBN-10: 1451465122
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800699918
Print-ISBN-10: 0800699912

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2014