Pagans in Prison – Editorial

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We have had an explosion of incarceration in the United States in the last 30 years.  Minority races, the poor, and least educated continue to be way over represented as inmates statistically. Addiction, and our society’s inability to cope with the plague it represents, contributes to arrests and recidivism, and drug offenses fuel incarceration rates. Young males dominate the populations of our prisons, while female rates explode proportionately but in smaller overall numbers. One in 28 US kids has a parent in prison, and that tells much of the story of where the males are that might be a role model.

The religious civil rights of Pagans, or any inmate, are now well established in law. Whether the implementation of that law takes place seems to depend on individual states, institutions, and the staff and chaplains who work within them. Officials and inmates can work together to find reasonable accommodation to individual spiritual practice, and equity of accommodation among the many spiritual paths in prison, or we can all bear the cost of resolving these issues through the courts.

Inmates pay for their crimes through the loss of their freedom. To expect them to lose the rights our Constitution considers basic human rights is more for our satisfaction and as ‘punishment’ for those who may have caused us pain or harm.

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