March 1, 2021 Editor

Houses of hate:

How Canada's prison system is broken

Dangerous, racist and falling apart. By nearly every metric, the nation’s penal system is not just failing, it’s making things worse.

Visits: 103

  1. intrepid prison abolitionist, author of three books that tell a progression story (in photo from right to left):


  2. Griffith, Lee. The Fall of the Prison: Biblical Reflections on Prison Abolition. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 1999, 1.[]
  3. Griffith, Fall, 106.[]
  4. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.

    Because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.

    He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,

    And recovery of sight to the blind,

    To set free those who are downtrodden,

    To proclaim the favourable year of the Lord. (Luke 4:18-19)


  5. Griffith, Fall, 107.[]
  6. Griffith, Fall, 118.[]
  7. Isaiah 45:12.[]
  8. Taylor, Mark Lewis, The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America, Fortress Press, 2nd edition, 2015.[]
  9. Taylor, Executed, ix. My book review may be found here:; last accessed January 11, 2021.[]
  10. Menninger, Karl. The Crime of Punishment, New York: Penguin, 1966/1977.[]
  11. Reiman, Jeffrey. The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, New York: Routledge, 2016.[]
  12. Crime Control as Industry: Towards GULAGS, Western Style, London: Routledge, 1995.[]
  13. In a brilliant work by a friend, David Cayley, The Expanding Prison: The Crisis in Crime and Punishment and the Search for Alternatives, there is a section devoted to Ivan Illich’s understanding of prisons as characteristic of religious ceremonies. Imprisonment is thus, in Illich’s words,

    A huge ritual which creates a scapegoat, which we can drive out into the desert, believing that by loading onto that scapegoat all that we experience we’ll get rid of it . . . Prisons are the place in which we can face horror too terrible for us to recognize that we are ourselves immersed in it . . ., 83.

    Cayley’s entire book is a profound indictment of the “prison industrial complex” and pointer to how else crime might be addressed. It also brings Illich and René Girard together somewhat in their understanding of criminals as societal scapegoats. See also: Rempel, Life at the End of Us Versus Them, that does the same more generically in a full monograph discussing both thinkers. Nils Christie whom Cayley counted as a good friend, is also discussed at length.[]

  14. Andrew Skotnicki is professor in theological and criminological ethics at Manhattan College in New York City. He received an undergraduate degree in History from Marquette University, an MA in Ecclesiastical History from the Washington Theological Union, and a Ph.D. in Religion and Society from the Graduate Theological Union. He has published numerous essays on the theological and ethical implications of criminal justice as well as four books, the latest of which Conversion and the Rehabilitation of the Penal System: A Theological Rereading of Criminal Justice (Oxford, 2019) was the recipient of the 2019 Aldersgate Prize. His latest volume, The Prophets Are All Crazy: Injustice, Insight, Insanity, Incarceration is under review for Bristol University Press. He has spent many years working in the jails and prisons of America, including nine years as a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago. For the past nine years, he has taught an accredited college course in the jails of New York City. Over 70 of the confined students who have completed the course have received tuition free classes at Manhattan College.[]


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.