July/August 2013 Issue Index

Criminal Justice Book Review Edition




Editor's Introduction

Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice - Annual Book Review Issue        
   by Ryan P. Cumming
Currently, the Recommended and Proposed Social Statement on Criminal Justice is circulating through the church. At the Churchwide Assembly this fall, members will have the opportunity to vote on its adoption. In recognition of the important conversations about this topic in the church, this annual book review issue of JLE features reviews of several texts on criminal justice.


Criminal Justice Book Reviews

New Jim Crow
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
   Review by Dawn Jeglum Bartusch
In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander has written a powerful and provocative analysis of mass incarceration in the United States. Her goal “is to stimulate a much-needed conversation about the role of the criminal justice system in creating and perpetuating racial hierarchy in the United States." Given how widely read and discussed her book has become, in very diverse circles, I’d say that she has achieved that goal.

Compassionate Justice 

Compassionate Justice: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue with Two Gospel Parables on Law, Crime, and Restorative Justice
   Review by Christie Billups
Through detailed examination of the well-known and well-loved parables of The Good Samaritan and The Prodigal Son (Luke 10:25-37 and 15:11-32), Marshall looks closely at the nature and practice of compassion. Likewise, he recognizes the art and grace that provoke love toward the one who is “other” and mercy toward the one who does violence to us. Ultimately, he pairs compassion and justice as necessary dance partners in a faith-based response to crime and all those who are impacted by it.

Good Punishment  Good Punishment? Christian Moral Practice and U.S. Imprisonment 
   Review by Amy Levad
Mass incarceration, or the prison-industrial complex, will not end without a movement for justice, and Christians must participate in this movement both because our faith demands it and because the movement will never succeed without us. Logan’s Good Punishment? offers a vision that could help Christians see their role in such a movement. Despite the strength of his argument, several areas could use more attention.

James Logan Response to Professor Levad’s Review of Good Punishment?
    Response by James Logan
While Professor Levad finds the initial three chapters of Good Punishment? to be sound enough on the whole, particularly with respect to my discussion of “African-American populations,” she is worried that some areas of my work “could use more attention.” To her concerns, I offer the following.

Scandal of White Complicity

  The Scandal of White Complicity in US Hyper-Incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance 
   Review by James Logan
The Scandal of White Complicity in US Hyper-Incarceration presents a rare, unflinching, and provocative confrontation of White Catholic complicity in the contemporary U.S. scourge of mass incarceration. Catholic theologians Alex Mikulich, Laurie Cassidy, and Margaret Pfeil offer with this text an invitation to White Christians to mount a concrete, spirit-based response to their participation (wittingly or unwittingly) in U.S. hyper-incarceration.

Sacredness of the Person

The Sacredness of the Person: A New Genealogy of Human Rights
   Review by Ryan P. Cumming
The Sacredness of the Person: A New Genealogy of Human Rights, a monumental study of human rights as a value commitment, serves as the testing ground of Hans Joas’ theory of the “genesis of value commitments” developed in his earlier works The Genesis of Values and War and Modernity. His argument, now as then, challenges the notions that “genesis and validity [of values] are clearly separable” and that ultimate values admit of “a purely rational justification”.


© July/August 2013
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 13, Issue 4