• JAIL CELL A jail cell is seen in 2010 at the federal penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.

    A jail cell is seen in 2010 at the federal penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. (CNS photo by Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice handout via Reuters)

Writer says bill reducing violations can promote rehabilitation

Catholic Courier    |    05.03.2021

To the editor:

In his talk to prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility outside Philadelphia in September of 2015, Pope Francis stated: “This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand in helping you rejoin society. All of us are a part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help and enable your rehabilitation.”

It is estimated that 40 percent of prisoners reincarcerated while on parole are jailed for technical parole violations, which includes missing curfews — for example, a father may be unable to accept a well-paying night job or take a sick child to the emergency room if it conflicts with curfew. The racial disparity is stark: Black people are incarcerated in New York City jails for technical parole violations at more than 12 times the rate of whites.

I urge your support for the “Less Is More Act,” now before the state Legislature, which would limit the technical violations that could lead to reincarceration and provides for due process for any alleged parole violation. This legislation can help bring about rehabilitation, restoration, healing and hope.

As our U.S. bishops have said: “We are all sinners and our response to sin and failure should not be abandonment and despair, but rather justice, contrition, reparation, and return or reintegration of all into the community” (November 2000 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice”).

Rev. Kevin E. McKenna

Flower City Park, Rochester

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