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Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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This post has become a Christmas tradition at Solitary Watch. To all our readers, warm wishes for the holidays. Special thanks to those who have helped us bring a small ray of light into the darkness of solitary confinement by supporting our Lifelines to Solitary project. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  […]

Voices from Solitary: Loneliness and Faith at Christmastime

The following essay comes from Brian Nelson, who spent 12 years in solitary confinement in Tamms supermax prison in Illinois. Released in 2010, he now works at the Uptown People’s Law Center, which has been instrumental in the battle to close Tamms–a battle that has at last proved successful. Some prisoners have already been moved out […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

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As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday. As more than 3,000 Americans sit on death row, we revere the birth of a godly man who was arrested, “tried,” sentenced, and put to death by the state. The Passion is the story of […]

“God’s Own Warden”: Inside Angola Prison

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Editor’s Note: The latest issue of Mother Jones magazine includes James Ridgeway’s long article on Burl Cain, warden of the nation’s largest prison, and possibly its most notorious. The former slave plantation is known for the fact that 90 percent of its more than 5,000 prisoners will die behind bars, and also for holding two […]

Easter As a Story of Criminal Injustice

We missed this post yesterday, but it’s too good to pass up so we’re sharing it a day late. This is from Scott Henson’s Grits for Breakfast, which provides the blogosphere’s best coverage of the Texas criminal justice system.  Easter is strikingly filled with criminal justice themes, isn’t it? The Christian religion was essentially founded on a repudiation […]

Santa Was in Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday. As more than 3,000 Americans sit on death row, we revere the birth of a godly man who was arrested, “tried,” sentenced, and put to death by the state. The Passion is the story of an […]

Our Father Who Art in Prison

Sweatshirt for sale in the Angola Museum gift shop reads "Angola: A Gated Community"

You sometimes have to wonder why the state of Louisiana doesn’t just transform Angola prison into a year-round Christian camp meeting. As I’ve written before, under the tutelage of Warden Burl Cain, Angola has become a place where the only kind of rehabilitation on offer is Christian redemption. I respect any kind of spiritual life prisoners might turn to […]

The Mark of Cain: God and Man at Angola Prison

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The Associated Press today put out a laudatory piece on Warden Burl Cain’s program of Christian education at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The article, which was picked up by the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens of other publications, is sure to advance Cain’s reputation as a great prison reformer. The AP piece depicts Angola as […]

Santa Was in Solitary

Most people know that Santa Claus is derived from St. Nicholas, an early Christian saint beloved for his kindness and generosity. What hardly anyone knows is that Nicholas acquired sainthood not by giving alms, but by performing a miracle that more or less amounted to breaking out of solitary confinment. George Pappas Sr., writing in Ohio’s Zanesville Times […]