Prison Reform and Jonathan Aitken
It is reported today that Jonathan Aitken is to head a taskforce study into prison reform. It has been set up by the Centre for Social Justice that was established by former Conservative party leader, Iain Duncan Smith. This is, sadly, a much neglected issue and it is exciting to know Jonathan will be leading a serious study into this problem. He does so, of course, with experience from the inside after his conviction for perjury which he vividly recounted in his book Pride and Perjury (though sadly Peter Preston, the editor of the Guardian at the time, remains sceptical about Jonathan’s suitability for this task) .
He also does so as a committed Christian and the biographer of the leading US Christian prison reformer (and also former leading politician and ex-prisoner), Charles Colson.
It will be most interesting to see the fruit of this work which will come out of personal passion about this subject and careful Christian thinking.
This is undoubtedly an area where Christian theologians and churches need to be doing more thinking and be more active.
The Roman Catholic Church recently produced (in 2004) an important study of the topic - A Place of Redemption: A Christian Approach to Punishment and Prison.
I had some problem getting the PDF to download at first but it eventually worked. There is a cached HTML of it easily available and also a PDF study guide on it for sixth-formers from the Catholic Education Service. A guide to the CofE’s various statements on these issues - including the important subject of restorative justice - and other links is available on their website.