From the Center for FaithJustice, this thoughtful article by Kurt Denk, S.J., a Jesuit priest and lawyer. Fr. Denk had for a time served as a chaplain at San Quentin Prison in California. The summary of the article follows:
Jesuit priest and lawyer Kurt Denk asks us to consider what a new, landmark Supreme Court decision regarding California prison overcrowding says to Catholics and all those trying to live as faithful citizens. He suggests two areas that should inform our actions within the public square:
First, human dignity—as a concept within the Eighth Amendment and one underlying Jesus’ commands to his disciples—remains relevant to contemporary political and legal debate.
Second, competing visions of the role of various institutions (such as courts and state governments) and actors (such as voters) in addressing questions of dignity, punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation implicate themes that are deeply rooted in Catholic social teaching.