The Abolitionist New  
Vol. 1, No. 2
February 2013
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When Did We See You In Prison?


When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, he stated that loving God with your whole being and loving your neighbor as yourself constituted the two concepts on which the law and the prophets were based. A little farther in the Gospels he delineates characteristics that are signs of these two commandments: feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, acts of charity to strangers, visiting the sick and people in prison. By engaging in these acts, we demonstrate our love for our neighbor and by extension to Jesus.

Over the past several months, I have been visiting an inmate on death row  Rather than trying to enumerate what is involved in this work, I want to share a few observations that might help you when visiting in prison.


Justice Is Not Blind-Legal representation, ethnicity, and wealth often have more to do with whether a person is on death row than the crime committed. There are people in our society who have committed the same crime as many of the people on death row, yet they are free. There are more factors than a heinous act that result in people being condemned to die.


Conversion Is Not The Objective-The person I visit is a Muslim, but it's not my job to convert him to Christianity. My responsibility is to set an example that hopefully constitutes Christian behavior. Actions, not words, convert people to Jesus' message. By being his friend and sharing my beliefs through action is what I'm called to do.


Ministry Is A Commitment-Befriending a person on death row is a long-term commitment. Never become a visitor on death row unless you're committed to spending years working with an inmate. The man I visit is 39 years old and has been in jail for nineteen years. This ministry puts a face on men and women who oftentimes have been forgotten; they will, however, return you love.


The Death Penalty Must Be Abolished--The

United States was the only country in the Western hemisphere or among the G8 nations to carry out executions last year. 

 Too many people are being released from prison due to DNA testing alone to justify the continuance of the death penalty. Moreover, I do not believe that a reading of the Gospels can justify the death penalty.


Please share your prison visitation experiences with The Abolitionist so they can be printed to help others as they undertake Jesus' command.


Ronald T. Clemmons


Death Penalty Abolition Action Group 

st. dismas  St. Dismas: Patron Saint Of Prisoners

It's estimated that over 10,000 people have been canonized by the Church over the past two millennia. Only one of these individuals, however, was canonized in 33 C.E.:  Dismas.


Church tradition maintains that Dismas was the name of  the "good thief" crucified on Jesus' right, referenced in the Gospel of Luke. He, along with the impenitent thief, Gestas, were being crucified for theft. When the crowd started jeering Jesus during his crucifixion, Luke states that Dismas chided his fellow thief when for participating in the crowd's actions.


Dismas asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom, to which the Lord replied that Dismas would be with him that day in paradise. Although the church never took official action to recognize Dismas as a saint, many belief it was unnecessary since Jesus canonized him during his Passion.


Dismas is considered the official saint of death row prisoners, and his feast day is March 25.

TN Shield Tennessee Diocese Addresses Problem 
The prisons that house the 82 people on Tennessee's death row are under the control of the Department of Corrections. While there are common standards within the department, individual prisons have some autonomy in the rules that govern each institution.
Over a decade ago, the state General Assembly passed a statute that helps clarify visitations in the state's prison system, which includes giving inmates the right to have clergy and religious volunteers visit them.
One institution recently invoked a policy that allows inmates classified "as "close security" to have only non-contact visits and that inmates classified as "maximum security" have only "video visitations." Full implementation of this rule across the state would prohibit clergy and religious volunteer from having  face-to-face meetings with prisoners, especially those on death row.
The Tennessee Diocesan convention passed a resolution at the 2013 convention calling on the Governor and the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee "to assure that contact visitation with prison inmates remains available for their family members, the clergy and lay visitors and that worshipping with inmates in the state prisons of Tennessee... in order to "enhance, improve and encourage visitation" and to have contact visitation in the spirit of Christian principles."
The action of the convention is to be mailed to the Governor and each of the 132 member of the General Assembly.
This resolution was officially supported by the St. Paul's-Murfreesboro EPF Chapter.
Uncle Sam 5      
Your Immediate Action Needed!
A White House petition to end the  death penalty needs signatures. Go to "Sign Petition" to take action. It takes 150 signatures to be featured on the  White House website and 100,000 signatures are needed  by March 9, 2013, to earn a response from the White House.
Help initiate a federal dialogue on one of the most archaic vestiges of societal development.