Rethinking Incarceration by Dominique DuBois Gilliard takes a good, hard look at the history of US incarceration policies, the pipelines that lead towards incarceration (think war on drugs, zero tolerance policies in schools, systemic and institutionalized racism, discrimination, harsh immigration policies etc), and the involvement in the church within not only the history of US incarceration but also in today’s reality of terrible mass incarceration. Dominique DuBois Gilliard gives us a deeply researched, no holds barred book on how the US justice system has completely failed entire portions of the population, that it is an unfair and biased system based on profit and retribution rather than restoration, and how the church has not a good enough job in helping to fix this broken system. He then goes on to provide several solutions for the church to use that will help change the status quo and help rectify a system that otherwise will not get any better.
I’m not personally religious at all, but I was drawn to this book because, just like the title states, we need to completely rethink incarceration and look at all the options that we can to create positive change in all areas, whether it be in how we punish crime, misdemeanors and felonies, or how, as a society, we can help those who have served time to actually be given the chance to come back as humans rather than as “people who have served time”. Dominique DuBois Gilliard does a great job really digging deep down into all of the different issues that have caused today’s mass incarceration numbers, and the often times horrific conditions in which people are forced to live. The numbers don’t lie, systemic racism and archaic rules favor rich, white people when it comes to punishment for crimes committed and Dominique DuBois Gilliard uses his position as church leader to look into where the church has failed those who most needed it, and more importantly where the church can change and provide much needed restoration.
While the main thesis is based on the church’s role in incarceration and restoration, Rethinking Incarceration is in my opinion a must-read for all, not just for Christians and theologists. Whether you are religious or not it provides some great insight into how there are so many ways we can all work together to fix this system before it breaks even further.
Rethinking Incarceration was published in February 2018 by InterVarsity Press. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the copy!