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April 2, 2014

"Two church leaders urge Senate to pass Smarter Sentencing Act"

The title of this post is the headline of this article from what appears to be a prominent Catholic newspaper. Here are excerpts:

Two Catholic leaders called on the U.S. Senate to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act, which would reform rigid sentencing policies for certain nonviolent drug offenders. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said in a March 27 letter to senators that tough minimum sentences "are costly, ineffective and can be detrimental to the good of persons, families and communities." They called the bill a "modest first step in reforming our nation's broken sentencing policies."

The bill would cut minimum existing sentences by half and allow judges to use discretion when imposing jail terms against lower-level offenders. The legislation also would permit crack cocaine offenders to seek lighter sentences if they were jailed under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The bill's supporters tout it as a necessary first step to reduce overcrowding in prisons and begin whittling down the massive cost of incarceration.

Despite supporting the bill, Archbishop Wenski and Father Snyder questioned three new categories of mandatory sentencing minimums that were added to the original bill, saying they would not ease prison overcrowding or reduce costs. The new categories cover sexual assault, domestic violence and arms trading....

Noting that annual incarceration costs for state and federal governments total about $80 billion annually, the clergymen wrote that it is time for the government to support programs aimed at crime prevention, rehabilitation, education and substance abuse treatment and as well as probation, parole and reintegration into society. "Our Catholic tradition supports the community's right to establish and enforce laws that protect people and advance the common good. But our faith teaches us that both victims and offenders have a God-given dignity that calls for justice and restoration, not vengeance," the letter said. 

The full letter referenced in this article is available at this link, and here is the closing paragraph:

Though imperfect, the Smarter Sentencing Act will help begin a long, overdue reform of our nation’s ineffective and costly sentencing practices.  Pope Francis recently said, “God is in everyone’s life.  Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s life.”  We join the pope by advocating for reforms to our nation’s sentencing policies that will lead to healing and restoration, rather than simply punishment.

Though I am not sure this would be an entirely fair and accurate statement, I love that this last paragraph allows me to reasonably assert that wise religious leaders say "Pope Francis supports the Smarter Sentencing Act."  Indeed, maybe based on this letter I can even consider claiming that God supports the SSA (and, in so doing, provocativey and humorously speculate aloud about who is really behind the forces opposing the SSA).

April 2, 2014 at 11:32 AM | Permalink


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“God is in this person’s life.”

Or a demon is, e.g.: Acts 16:16-18.

Once a man has truly repented and believed, he becomes eligible for God’s direction.
See 2 Chron 7:14, Ps 7:11, Ps 66:18, Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3,5, and John 1:12.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 2, 2014 12:03:19 PM

// “ I love that this last paragraph allows me to reasonably assert that wise religious leaders say "Pope Francis supports the Smarter Sentencing Act." // —Prof. Berman

What else has the Pope and Vatican said of late?
| Vatican Chief Justice: Obama’s Policies ‘Have Become Progressively More Hostile Toward Christian Civilization’|St. Louis.CBS Local.com|
March 24, 2014
Cardinal Raymond Burke said about Obama:
“He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,”

“Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is,
he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship
but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act
against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions,” Burke said.

Burke took a swipe against Obama’s Affordable Care Act over the law’s birth control mandate, saying
“such policies would have been unimaginable in the United States even 40 years ago.”


| Tale Of Two Meetings? Obama Says No Thorny Issues Discussed, Pope Begs To Differ|
Published March 27, 2014
Fox News Latino
VATICAN CITY (AP) – President Barack Obama and the Vatican gave distinctly different accounts of the president's audience with Pope Francis
on Thursday, with Obama stressing their common ground on poverty and inequality but Vatican officials emphasizing concerns over Obama's health care law,
which mandates contraception coverage.

Obama … said the two spent the most time discussing the plight of the poor and the marginalized as well as regions of conflict and the elusive nature of peace around the world.
The Vatican, in a statement shortly after the meeting, said discussions centered on questions of particular relevance for the church in the U.S.,
"such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection" — issues that have fueled divisions between Obama
and the church.

But Obama said those discussions took place … not with Francis. "We actually didn't talk a whole lot about social schisms in my conversations with His Holiness,"
he added. "In fact, that really was not a topic of conversation."

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 2, 2014 1:17:51 PM

Actually, Doug, it is not reasonable at all.

Per the usual, Americans tend to see things in the context of America, when the Pope is the Pastor of an entire world.

I would be shocked if he has ever heard of the SSA.

Not to mention, it would take an ex cathedra statement to make your claim, which is not happening.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Apr 2, 2014 1:25:53 PM

Doug --

It's all true. I AM Satan. I'm amazed it's taken you this long to find out.

P.S. I have to confess that I borrowed that line from a hilarious edition of the Weekly World News from 1994. As was typical with the Weekly World News, it had a story that "12 US Senators Are Space Aliens." Among the 12 was Phil Gramm from Texas. The quotation from Gramm, when a WWN "reporter" asked him about this, was the most priceless I've ever heard in public life. Gramm said, "It's all true. We are space aliens. I'm amazed that it's taken you so long to find out. When we read that the other aliens had been exposed in 1992, we knew it was only a matter of time before you got the rest of us."


Dole had a wicked sense of humor, but Gramm's was better. (Eric Holder has a pretty good one, too).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 2, 2014 3:12:02 PM

I am glad Bill appreciated the humor in my coda to this article, unlike Adamakis and Tarls it seems.

Like Tarls, I would be shocked if the Pope has ever heard of the SSA. Indeed, my coda was designed in part to lampoon the final sentence from the linked letter which says "We join the pope by advocating for reforms to our nation’s sentencing policies...."

On other fronts, I am really a space alien, which explains why I have chosen the strange human manifestation one sees outside the blogosphere!!

Posted by: Doug B, | Apr 2, 2014 5:11:21 PM

Perhaps when Pres. Obama stops penalising Christians for not funding abortions, I'll find the wherewithal to lighten up.

Posted by: Adamakis | Apr 2, 2014 6:39:28 PM

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