Dont Just Wash Your Hands: Scripture, COVID-19, and Mass Incarceration

The thesis assertion of the Bible, for Christians, may be discovered within the life, ministry, dying and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the main focus of the Lenten season. Jesus, himself, mentioned this of his function:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
as a result of he has anointed me
to proclaim good newsto the poor.
He has despatched me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and restoration of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the yr of the Lords favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

However what does it imply to proclaim the yr of the Lords favor in a season of Lent set within the midst of a COVID-19 viral pandemic?

Our religion and Scriptures invite us to reply by doing extra than simply washing our palms. They invite us to like our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), particularly our most susceptible neighbors.

A minimum of one web site of vulnerability stays largely invisible to our collective deal with the Coronavirus: the U.S. prisons and jails that home roughly 2 million souls.

Incarcerated individuals, their households, advocacy teams and public well being consultants have all been loudly sounding the alarm: the situations of incarceration are ripe for speedy viral unfold, notably endangering particularly susceptible teams, together with these individuals in jail who’re aged, immunocompromised, pregnant or already sick. Whereas to my data there have but to be confirmed circumstances in prisons and jails inside the USA. Although it appears, sadly, that that is only a matter of time. If tragedy strikes, it is going to have been predictable.

Whether or not we’re in jail or not, whether or not our family members are in jail or not, our name in Christ is evident:

Proceed to recollect these in jail as in the event you have been along with them in jail, and those that are mistreated as in the event you yourselves have been struggling. (Hebrews 13:3)

As Christians, we will bear in mind these in jail as if we have been along with them by serving to flip our collective conversations in the direction of these locations of vulnerability and shifting to motionnow.

Slightly than ready on the primary information of an outbreak, when containment will probably be tough at greatest, there may be a direct preventive motion step that may and needs to be taken instantly: determine these people who find themselves at the moment incarcerated, pose no menace to public security and are at heightened private threat of COVID-19together with aged, pregnant, sick and immunocompromised individualsand launch them now. Doing so will enhance these people private security, dramatically, decreasing their probability of viral publicity. It’ll additionally enhance the protection of the remainder of the incarcerated inhabitants by decreasing crowded situations in jails and prisons.

The place it’s attainable for state governors to make use of their govt authority to behave to offer clemency and compassionate launch, allow them to achieve this and achieve this rapidly.

READ: Group Within the COVID-19 Disaster

The place district attorneys, prosecutors and judges can present correct judgment and contemplate rigorously the well being dangers to medically-vulnerable defendants in charging and sentencing, allow them to additionally take up their work and do it effectively.

The place it’s attainable to implement legislative reforms, lets try this with all of the pace state governments can muster. (To my dwelling state, Im taking a look at you, New York: Elder Parole Senate Invoice 2144/Meeting Invoice 9040, Honest and Well timed Parole Senate Invoice 497 and Meeting Invoice 4346 are in your desks and have been for months due to Launch Ageing Individuals in Prisons [RAPP]work transfer them by now.)

All over the place I gofrom social media to the town busI am exhorted to scrub my palms. And I do. However all that handwashing press, mixed with the liturgical season of Lent, has bought me pondering increasingly about that the majority well-known handwashing scene of Scripture:

When Pilate noticed that he was getting nowhere, however that as a substitute an uproar was beginning, he took water and washed his palms in entrance of the group. I’m harmless of this mans blood, he mentioned. It’s your duty!All of the individuals answered, His blood is on us and on our kids!Then he launched Barabbas to them. However he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified (Matthew 27:24-26).

Allow us to be clear: if COVID-19 ought to come to our nations prisons and jails, hitting laborious a neighborhood that’s already marginalized and focusing on particularly those that are most medically fragile inside that neighborhood, then we will do all of the washing we would like, however their blood will nonetheless be on our palms.

It’s on us, friendsall of us. Now could be the time to behave. Go on and wash your palms however after a great scrub, lets flip our power in the direction of a worthy objective and assist free our most susceptible incarcerated siblings earlier than its too late.

Lets search, even in the present day, the yr of Gods favor. Lets set the captives free.

United Methodist Ladies joins with advocates and instantly impacted individuals throughout the nation in calling for quick launch of susceptible, incarcerated people who may be safely launched as a needed public well being measure in response to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19.


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