I just spend a few hours with Ex-Prisoners Organizing (EXPO) of Wisconsin and other community organizations. We protested and demanded the closing of Milwaukee’s Secure Detention Facility (MSDF).

It was strange to stand at the foot of this modern building and stare up into it ominous and sterile coldness.  It’s “modern-ness” was disconcerting given the earlier testimonies about the inhumane conditions.

“It’s like being put in a trunk . . . a means of breaking people . . . no sunlight . . . “

How can such a modern building be so inhumane? Is this an intentional design??

Since being built in 2001 as a temporary detention facility, 17 people have died while in custody at MSDF.  At least two have died this year.

“Granted [we’re] prisoners,” one speaker said, “but we human . . . we still have rights.”  Ex-prisoners spoke of deplorable conditions . . . poor ventilation, extreme heat, no in-person visits and excessive force against the mentally ill.

One person whispered in my ear that if pets/animals were held in this condition and 17 had died while in custody that there would be greater outrage.  I think he may be right.  It is deeply troubling to me as one human being to another.

It is more troubling as minister of the Gospel.  Jesus told a parable in Matthew 25:35-45 of those would be the sheep and those who would be the goats in heaven — all based on how e treat “the least of these.”

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

God is concerned with all of his creation, including those who are in prison and away from society.  What we would Jesus do?  He would look out for the humane treatment of the least of the these.  We fail miserably as a civilization when willfully or indifferent treat others as less than human.

We need to do much better.

Link to a bible study I did on Matthew 25 a few years ago: http://wjlanier.com/2013/06/26/be-about-your-fathers-business-matthew-2531-46/

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