There is wide agreement today that our prison system is fraught with problems. Opinion associates prisons with overcrowding, racism, human debasement, and with an inability to accomplish the reduction of crime. Further, there is also a partial antipathy ascribed to the general populace. Practically, citizens want governmental systems to provide for our security. Ideologically, there is a sense that leniency is foolhardy. However, as religious communities often equate crime with sin writ large, there is also a need to pursue wholeness in society. One way to do this is by reflecting on how punishment, prison in this case, can relate to restoration. This essay proceeds by examining the idea of imprisonment from two perspectives: by considering the history of prisons and current practices in the state of Oregon, and from the perspective of biblical literature. Thoughts on how a biblical perspective can engage culture follow this analysis.
See Jean Louis Ska‘‘Persian Imperial Authorization’: Some Question Marks,’ in Persia and Torah: The Theory of Imperial Authorization of the Pentateuch(ed. James W. Watts; sblsymS 17; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2001) p. 167.
Bernhard DuhmDas Buch Jesaia (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht1892); John Oswalt The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1–39 (nicot; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1986) 17–23; and H.G.M. Williamson The Book Called Isaiah: Deutero-Isaiah’s Role in Composition and Redaction (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1994).