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Colorado: Writer continues religious opposition review.

Writer continues to outline religious response to private prisons
October 15, 2004

Dear Editor,

I would like to continue my letter of October 7 addressing the church's response to for-profit prisons.

The United Methodist Church General Conference of 2000 passed by a vote of 734-142 the following declaration opposing for-profit prisons: "Christians, therefore, must have a special concern for those who are captive in any way, especially for those who are imprisoned and for the human conditions under which persons are incarcerated. Individual Christians and churches must also oppose those policies and practices which reflect greater allegiance to the profit motive than to public safety. Therefore, the United Methodist Church declares its opposition to the privatization of prisons and jails and profit making from the punishment of human beings" (Petition 30589-CS-Non-Dis-0) (

). The 2002 127th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark adopted Resolution 10 concerning the Prison Industrial Complex. The resolution states, in part: "The narrow and insistent focus of imprisonment as the primary method of crime reduction has made the U.S. prison industrial complex one of the fastest growing industries in the land. The industry of warehousing prisoners in private prisons has presented a temptation to those who would profit from the punishment of human beings" (

A resolution was also passed by the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska at the General Convention in 2003. The resolution states, in part: "Furthermore, that the Church declare itself to be opposed to the concept of for-profit prison privatization, a concept that bears at its heart an inescapable conflict of interest, and must inevitably be more concerned about profits than about the rehabilitation of prisoners" (http/

A formal statement issued by the Catholic Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops November 2000 General Meeting also expresses serious reservations about prison privatization. The statement reads, in part: "We bishops question whether private, for-profit corporations can effectively run prisons. The profit motive may lead to reduced efforts to change behaviors, treat substance abuse, and offer skills necessary for reintegration into the community" (

). In April 2003, Southern Catholic Bishops called for the abolishment of for-profit prisons in the United States. The following is an extract from their statement: "We are concerned that cutting staff and reducing wages in order to protect profit margins is in conflict with the need to respect and rehabilitate prisoners. We are even more deeply troubled that the private prison industry has actively supported institutions that lobby for harsher sentencing laws, which increase the prison population. Since it appears that private prisons are not consistent with the need for our prisons to respect human dignity of each and every person, we call for an end to all for-profit private prisons" (

). As the above statements indicate, private prison companies are more interested in profit than in the rehabilitation of prisoners. I would like to encourage the churches in this community to give prayerful attention to the above resolutions. I would also like to encourage individual Christians in Prowers County to prayerfully consider all of these factors as they reflect on the proposed for-profit private prison project.


Carolyn Kelley


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