Rethinking Incarceration

Dominique DuBois Gilliard. Intervarsity, $17 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-8308-4529-3
In his debut, Gilliard, an Evangelical Covenant Church pastor, builds on the work of Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow), Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy), and Christopher D. Marshall (Compassionate Justice) to create a readable narrative history of racialized incarceration in the U.S. Gilliard depicts the modern incarceration culture as being so painful and brutal that “I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory/ When is it gonna get me?” He opens with the horrific murder of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in 2006 by Atlanta police officers who conspired to hide their crime, and then goes on to survey the history of mass incarceration, including “black codes” (restrictive laws passed in the late 19th century), convict leasing, and modern prison labor. First, he deconstructs American evangelicals’ fascination with “law and order” and theology of penal substitution. Second, building on fine biblical interpretation, he provides a theology that emphasizes restorative justice. He also takes the church to task for failing to “reckon with the reality that ever since black people were stolen from Africa and trafficked to this land, they have been dehumanized, abused, criminalized, incarcerated, exploited for profit, and governed in distinctively sinister ways.” This is an outstanding addition to this incredibly important conversation. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/11/2017
Release date: 02/06/2018
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