A summary of the 2004 Bishops' document 'A Place of Redemption' - A Christian approach to Punishment and Prison.
Nobody wants to know about prison. It is the concern of those behind bars, those who detain them, the members of their families, and a handful of campaigners and professionals. But as a society the rest of us want, metaphorically, to throw away the key. Yet the issue is not without outside scrutiny.
Every prison is visited by a Catholic chaplain, as well as other chaplains, at least once a week and many have a daily witness.
The Church has an unbroken history, through the centuries and across the world, of visiting those in prison.
The Church’s position here is not just that of its moral and social teaching but its experience: Catholic priests spend a considerable part of their ministry dealing with people who fall through the holes in our society.
All this is not an aspect of the Church’s social action to which attention is normally drawn, but this report does so now because the overall state of the nation’s prisons is a scandal – and the situation has deteriorated rapidly and steadily in recent years.
And this is a crisis to which we believe the Church has an important viewpoint to bring, not merely from the perspective of our social concern but because Christian theology has important insights to offer into questions of criminal justice, the rights and responsibilities of individuals, and the wider duty of our society to promote the flourishing of all its citizens.
A Christian approach to Punishment and Prison.