The violence of mass incarceration is a symptom of a dying democracy, a country in the hands of people who use jailing as a political tool, to win elections and to disenfranchise black people, Latinos, poor people, dissidents.... It provides a hateable other for people to fear and loathe and to believe that those who hold power are the only thing between those terrifying people and their safety. The imprisonment of non-violent, minor criminals, making truly minor crimes felonies with long prison terms.
One of the requirements to follow Jesus was to care for those who are imprisoned, one of the least popular of his hard teachings. Overwhelmingly, it has been religious people who have worked on this issue, not all religious people, certainly, but most of those who have concentrated on it. Many, perhaps most of the liberal churches have similar and active missions of this kind. And it certainly isn't limited only to Christians who do that.
I think, in addition to the columns of Richard McBrien, I'm going to post more of these kinds of efforts. As RMJ said, the decades long effort by the United Church of Christ on behalf of justice for LGBT people "the loudest sound you never heard." It is the kind of work engaged in by religious people, every day, every month, every year, which is totally disappeared from the collective consciousness by the media. The thing which must be suppressed for the same reason that such efforts in liberation as the Haitian revolution had to be suppressed by American presidents and politicians, starting with Jefferson, it is an example the oligarchs don't want other people following because it is subversive to their hold on power and wealth.
The Gospel is radical, any religious holding that moral obligations are real and binding and that among those is the equal respect of rights and dignity in all people is an absolute requirement. Inequality in wealth and power depends on denying that moral requirement and the reality of those rights. There is no more effective means of doing that than throwing a harmless person in prison, where they are brutalized, exploited, used as slave labor and released into a society which has been trained to turn them into the lowest class of human beings created just for them. Hollywood has certainly played its part in that. It is one of the most effective tools of the oligarchs in creating and maintaining that system. TV, hate talk radio and the cabloids may as well count as being the same thing. It's no wonder that they have tried to bury liberal religion.
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