The science and philosophy of Restorative Justice vs Sentence Enhancement in combating evil

One thing that I’ve always been curious about is can we apply the principles of the gospel leading people to repentance and the softening of their hearts to how we handle criminals and out prison systems. Many of the people I meet and share my faith with are felons or people who commit crimes. I’ve seen the gospel and a community of believers really help them. Especially by encouraging them to be own with their congregation. I’ve also talked with many elders and preachers on the importance of applying forgiveness and mercy to not only sinners, but felons. Often I’ve noticed when someone presents the same story but use words like sinner , sin, and repentance they are more quickly accepted than the same story being told as felon, crimes and rehabilitation.

The reason why I always encourage these people to share their story to some degree wit their congregation because until they do, there is always this sort of wall between them. They can’t really feel accept until they know they are truly accepted. It’s scary for them, and it’s also a struggle for their congregation , but most of the time when both are presented with the gospel they will work through it out of love, mercy and forgiveness.

I think that’s why the verses says in james 5:16, “ Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.”

Science seems to usually show that longer and more harsh sentences don’t work and that post prison punishments tend to result in them isolating themselves and not having financial security by repeated job rejections resulting in their hole of fear that encourages them to fall back into bad practices and back in the system.

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Rehabilitate, not punish. I think that is the best path forward. Our current system sets people up for failure and repeat offenses by erecting massive hurdles that people have to overcome.

At the same time, I can understand why a business would not want to hire a recently released felon. It’s a bit like the story of the scorpion and the frog. When the scorpion stings the frog while crossing the river and drowns them both, the scorpion says, “What did you expect? I’m a scorpion.” If a felon commits a crime at a new workplace the refrain will be “Well, what did you expect? He’s a felon.”

Society itself is going to have to change its worldview on justice and rehabilitation. I do think forgiveness can be a key part of that process. Having someone who believes in you and wants you to succeed can be a powerful thing.


I agree i definitely understand the worry behind hiring a felon, released soon or not. Most places go back 7-10 years and some even do background checks of up to 30 years. Usually it seems a big part of that is also because of programs that give companies tax breaks and other incentives for hiring recently released felons and many even work with prisons that begin training employees while still incarcerated.

It also seems like usually people steal because they feel like it’s the only way to get it. Like all the people caught stealing groceries from Walmart. I have a friend who is a lawyer and about 80% of his clients are people who hire him that got caught stealing groceries at the local Walmart. He does this cheap $500 deal thing and says he had about 50 cases a week. Those people are usually poor, and often first time caught causes. Most often it’s parents and pet era believe it or not. Many times it’s people who ran out of pet food and don’t have the $40 to spend on it , or for flee medication and so they try to steal it.

So when these poor people commit crimes and get caught, they go to jail for a short while and their bills stack up and the get out as adults a few months later and then can’t find jobs anywhere except for low paying places. It creates a cycle of them being more likely to do it again.

Sometimes felons are from harder crimes such as sexual assault, murder and depending where you live gang violence. Often kids who join gangs tend to be kids from broken families where one parent was the main one and they were gone constantly working and it’s it’s because the significant other was in prison themselves. It also makes sense on why someone would be hesitant to hire a rapist when they have female employees and often employees assume if you hire someone they are probably decent enough and the HR or Boss is not suppose to divulge the criminal history of who they hired.

The construction company I was running , that is now mostly nonexistent due to career changes purposely decided to not ask about their criminal history and did not do background checks. Sometimes after something went sideways we would just to see as most of the time it was people who did not even have a criminal history. Like we caught a dude once who we have cash to go buy $700 of rubber paint. They bought it, and came back and installed it all. We was there and saw the use it all and it was the right amount and so we knew there was only like $10-30 of cash left over and did not worry about it. What they did do though was clan all the paint buckets, fill them up with water and return them to the store saying the owner decided it was the wrong color and wanted money back. So they returned what was thought to be full unused buckets of paint and the store gave them all the money back. It was just by chance I was at the store when they did it. I did not even register it was stealing since I knew they used it all and it just came up in general conversation the day when i noticed all the cans that was empty was gone and asked them what job was they working on rhst they returned paint for and they came clean. I did nothing and told them don’t do it again, and switched all rules over to all purchases must be made with a company credit card. They ended up getting caught later on trying to dig receipts out of trash and pick up those items in stores and trying return them and so we died them and ran a background check and it was clean.

I joked with a elder once , “ should we start doing background checks on people who apply for church membership “ and they said they actually only do it on those who work in the child care section and now that they no longer provide that service they don’t actually check anyone and if it does come up they are told to not gossip about it and that was part of the same reason I had for not doing it on employees typically. It seems wrong to do background checks on church members. The church I’m at now don’t even do membership because they felt it was divisive.

I would like to see a lot more restitution and reparation instead of imprisonment as punishment for nonviolent crimes, à la Leviticus 6:5:

They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it

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It would add a interesting aspect to rehabilitation. But it would too need to be just a aspect of it since it often the marginalized , such as the poor doing it, and without some kind of hope it’s just digging them into dither dept.

But it still leaves the door open for how to better handle and rehabilitative the violent ones.

I’m also curious how can we as individuals contribute to helping tos issue. Often we can be kind of complacent and just wait for the government to handle it.

How would someone safely reach out to the violent offenders. One way is to obviously know those who use to be that way and have repented. They are equipped to be more understanding. Paul could probably be more accepting of a murder because he himself caused deaths type of thing.

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(I was just thinking that imprisonment for theft or property damage is about as clever as debtors’ prison. :roll_eyes:)

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I wonder if any ones church has an active ministry in reaching out to prisons, felons or someone like those with mental illness or drug addiction. Our church does not really. They use too, but there was a split a while back and now “both” congregations are very different. Some ways better and some was worse.

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There are individuals that do. I think it depends somewhat on time of life and circumstances, not that more shouldn’t be doing it. We have a member that used to but is no longer – health and new family factors are involved (and we are a very small church).

I did it for a little while. It was a letter program where I wrote and sometimes visited with inmates that were within 2 hour drive. The letters came and went from a church. It was once a week. I would respond on Sundays and mail out Mondays. Biggest challenge was dealing with people getting mad I would not offer all kinds of help. I told them up front I’m not able to offer them a job, and we can’t hang out at my house and they can’t borrow money or live with me. Tons would beg to stay at my house for a few weeks to get on their feet and I always said no. So often they would get mad, get out of jail, and not write any more letters or either lose the addresses or something. A handful got out and was able to find a job and living arrangements and would come to the church for a while. Only a few out of dozens managed to actually stick around. Many just faded off but that’s normal even with regular people.

I always told them I won’t share this business as long as

  1. They make a plan on how to be open about it because it takes humility, courage and trust in yourself and the church to do so within 6 months and

  2. They don’t date any of the women there. They are my sisters in Christ and if they art getting close to one, and going on dates and don’t share their history with them I’m going to. Not behind their back, but I’ll bring up in front of them so that she will know what’s happening and why. Then they can make their choice on their relationship. But I’m not risking a sister in Christ , or a friend, unknowingly stepping into a potentially dangerous situation.

As for coming clean to the congregation it did not have to be everyone and before the whole church. Just had to be at least one other brother in Christ or something like at the small men’s meeting.

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This actually is a serious matter, and understandably so. Insurance companies now routinely require that churches comply with some sort of ‘safe sanctuary’ policies that do usually involve background checks on nursery workers, and other common sense stuff like always having at least two supervisors (not from the same family), not letting relatively unknown newcomers serve unsupervised with kids, etc. It isn’t just protection for the children, though it very much is that, but it’s protection for the volunteers and workers too! If more churches had always abided by such policies, maybe we wouldn’t have so many church-scarred, bitterly hurt people today


For sure. Everyone agrees if you are working for , or volunteering with kids or teens you have to have a background check. That was even being done when I was a kid. The congregation I attend did not stop doing background checks on those people, it’s that they completely dropped it. There is no longer a separate youth ministry or nursery. All kids are kept in the same service. There is one service at 8-9 that is Bible study and there is the actual church service from 9-10 on Sundays and Wednesday there is a 7-8pm service. There is also a Sunday evening service from 6-7pm.

They dropped the youth services because the congregation as a whole decided it’s best for everyone to learn together and believe it’s beneficial for kids to see the adults in service and for adults to learn to not care about crying and ect… from kids in service to develop a better family and community oriented service. So there is no longer a need to do the background checks. They don’t do background checks on members band ect… there is no private place to wonder off too and there are now 4 elders, 6 deacons and 2 teachers as in people in the congregation who are considered wise, both with theology degrees, that are there to help guide lessons and for help answering questions after the service. The service goes for about 10 minutes of singing, 30 minutes of teaching/preaching followed by 15-20 minutes of the congregation asking questions that the elders and teachers respond to along with random members of the congregation. The last 10 minutes is prayers, requests , feedback and so on.

The whole joke popped up though in a discussion about how some members were worried about people riding motorcycles to church and how they may try to cause problems. Then someone mentioned so many members having tattoos and that it made them feel unsafe and so I was being snarky out loud because I have a dozen or so tattoos and I was kidding about should we enforce a dress code , and so random drug tests on people in the service and maybe even go ahead and require background checks for anyone who wants to come to church on Sunday.

It made the elder feel awkward and so he he responded … no… we accept everyone and anyone regardless of their past and then tossed in but we do background checks on those who work with kids and teens. Even I had to do a background check when I was leading high schoolers on hikes. I don’t do it anymore. It was mostly a waste of time lol. We had it set up for Saturdays or Sundays at 11am and so I would sit after service for like a hour and 99% of the time no one showed up. Partly because of me previously discussing evolution and secondly teens don’t want to spend 2 hours hiking after 1-2 hours of church. Also had the issue of having another adult who wanted to tag along. So now if some want to go, it’s just them showing up with their parents.

Very old idea. It gives/gave a way for people willing to do a little play acting to game the system. The result was that the system most severely punished those who are innocent, honest, and sincere. Thankfully this idiocy is slowly being replaced with secular methods which work better.

Interesting church. While I sort of like the idea of family church, it only works with fairly small congregations. The problem I would have with your situation would be with youth. They often need the social aspect and special attention that is hard for a small church to provide. I have wondered if these small churches should have large church affiliates that the youth could be a part of on a structured basis. I have a feeling the rivalry and power questions would make it difficult.

The majority of the youth are also in schools, plays sports and numerous other things. One of the elders is the high school football coach. It’s about 300 people. Services are now normally around 200 though. . Maybe 20 that are in high school. I think many of them all hang out outside of church. Once I even randomly came across like 10 of them at the movies. I also know they routinely go to a skating rink about 20 minutes away and that other congregation’s teens go there. I know a few are in here band , football team and are cheerleaders.

Much like me and several other mid 20s to mid 30s hang out often. We go out to eat together. We all spent the weekend about a month ago binging “ Stranger Things” together. There is a decent amount of social networking.

Nothing I’m saying is not secular. Restorative justice and prison with a emphasis on rehabilitation and working with colleges and companies to help them integrate back into the world is not religious. Using the Christian principles of helping inmates learn to have better emotional intelligence, cognitive processes and learning to move past self
Victimization and into accountability can all find places in how Christianity works with repentance. This is 100% secular. Nothing religious or spiritual about it.

Nothing in restorative Justice concepts minimizes sentencing either. But instead of rotting away for 10 years with little outside help prisons focus on using those ten years to help you merge successfully back into life. We see some efforts being done through prisons using things like
“ seven habits of highly effective people “ and “‘financial peace “ and working with companies to hire them upon release.

Restorative justice as compared to what others want. They think the solution to prevent reoffending is to make prisons worse, make the lonelier, and raise sentencing. It’s a hellfire approach instead of a help you repent approach.

So there is not really a playing the system anymore than what can already be done. Another example of restorative Justice is to treat addiction as a disorder instead of a crime and decriminalize it and use that funding to instead go towards counseling and rehab.

The attendance at the church I grew up in was about 400 total between two services on Sundays. In our area, that was a medium to large church.

We were also affiliated with a youth ranch that took on at risk juveniles who were estranged from their parents. I got to know a lot of the kids at the youth ranch during my time in youth group, and I would like to think that we had a positive impact on them. Having grew up on a family ranch myself, I also tend to think the hard work and responsibilities that come with working on a ranch had a positive impact. Shoveling out cattle stalls has a way of encouraging you to graduate from high school, get a degree, and find a good job.

I will say that the couples who ran households of 10 or so youths at the ranch were absolute saints.


I have a cousin whose husband grew up at Cal Farley’s Boy’s Ranch, and he considers it a huge blessing and the people there as family.

I’m a tired and so I felt like just skimming the post and I’m tied enough I’ll have to reread it later because it’s just kind of going over head with random words I’m seeing like government aiding and coverups and satanic powers. Unfortunately, felon or not, cheap work often results in crappy jobs and even expensive jobs are often carried out by jacks and corner cutters.

I essentially don’t watch videos. I don’t even watch half the videos I’m interested in because of time.

So to get back to the a specific place in the story , as a Christian, assuming you are, what do you believe is your role concerning felons in the work place, churches and your own life?

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