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Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores
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Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  596 ratings  ·  89 reviews
2018 IVP Readers' Choice Award 16th Annual Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year - Social Issues/Justice The United States has more people locked up in jails, prisons, and detention centers than any other country in the history of the world. Mass incarceration has become a lucrative industry, and the criminal justice system is plagued with bias and unjust practices. And t ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by IVP Books
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Laura Dallas
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After I read "Just Mercy" by Bryan Stevenson, I wanted to know more about what to do about it. I was excited to see this book about how the church could be involved in reforming the criminal justice system. Gilliard references "Just Mercy" and "The New Jim Crow" in this book and refers to his book as a sort of sequel to these important works, and I would agree. Gilliard does a good job of summing up our country's history of racial injustice and its relationship to the enormous problems in the cr ...more
John Defrog
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mass incarceration is a bit of a hot topic at the moment. This book isn't the first to tackle the issue, but it's arguably the first to do so from a Christian perspective that also takes the Christian church to task for being part of the problem. ECC pastor Dominique Du Bois Gilliard builds on the backs of similar books by Michelle Alexander, Bryan Stevenson and Christopher D. Marshall to present a compelling summation of the racist history of mass incarceration, the various elements that feed i ...more
Cara Meredith
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gilliard builds on the arguments of Alexander and Stevenson with additional layers of biblical and theological arguments. Well done!
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summary: A call for Christians to address mass incarceration in the United States that considers its pipelines, its history, and proposes alternatives to prison and a focus not merely on punishment but upon restoration.

It is time for Christians to rise up and make a holy interruption to the system of mass incarceration pervading the United State's criminal justice system. Dominique DuBois Gilliard contends that it is  system that not only dehumanizes the imprisoned, but all of us as a nation. To
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it

Although I was very grateful the history and context offered in the first section in the book, it was the second section’s focus on biblical restorative justice that really inspired, challenged, and moved me. May it be.
Joel Wentz
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great addition to the conversation spurred on by books like "The New Jim Crow" and "Just Mercy." Gilliard draws heavily on those books (and others) but manages to contribute a new and much-needed perspective by making an explicitly theological argument. He also adds some depth and nuance by pointing to the causes of our mass incarceration issue beyond only the 'war on drugs.'

The result is a well-researched, powerfully-argued clarion call for American Christians to wake up, repent, and
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I got access to this book through IVP's free book giveaway on faithful justice (kudos to IVP!). Gilliard is a pastor and advocate for reform of the US criminal justice system. Most of his statistics were similar to the documentary 13th (Netflix), Just Mercy (Brian Stevenson), and the New Jim Crow (Michelle Alexander, which I have not read yet). After just a brief exposure to these sources, I do not know how someone can deny the problematic reality of mass incarceration in the United States or th ...more
Melody Hession-Sigmon
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Helpful, broad view of mass incarceration as of 2017. Builds on Michelle Alexander's work and is in conversation with both Bryan Stevenson and T. Richard Snyder's "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Punishment." Provides pastors with tools to start conversations around mass incarceration grounded in examinations of well-known theological concepts many already teach in churches. ...more
Heather Caliri
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant, convicting book. Besides the extensive, heartbreaking research, and the hopeful, mind-boggling vision of restorative justice, I was most struck by the idea that Biblically, “righteousness” is always about whole RELATIONSHIPS. That’s a much more fruitful, whole, and interesting paradigm than our typical, individualistic goodness. Gilliard's book gave me much to think about--not only about criminal justice, but about my theology, passiveness, and our collective blindness. An urgent re ...more
Chris Theule-VanDam
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An eye-opening and ignorance breaking book.
Justin Swanson
👂🏻 listened
Katie Boland
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Makes me so sad that the church has played the role that it has in mass incarceration but this book gives a hopeful look to how we can repent and change.
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book with a discussion group and I’m grateful because this is a book that is so meaty and so lens shifting that having people to process with is so helpful. Part expose’ and part theological treatise, Dominique opens wide the issue of Mass Incarceration so that you can no longer sit quietly and accept the status quo as a believer in Christ. I have met the author and he is wise, genuine and practicing what he preaches. Required reading.
Briana Cho
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
So good. Really tough to read at times. Convicting.
Luke Hillier
Gilliard offers a distinctly Christian addition to the ongoing and evolving conversation around mass incarceration. He builds extensively (and at times, borrows) from the foundational work of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, however this is mostly as he creates his opening argument; as the book goes on, his own voice and unique scholarly week becomes more evident and gets to shine through. While it's always evide ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rethinking Incarceration by Dominique DuBois Gilliard takes a good, hard look at the history of US incarceration policies, the pipelines that lead towards incarceration (think war on drugs, zero tolerance policies in schools, systemic and institutionalized racism, discrimination, harsh immigration policies etc), and the involvement in the church within not only the history of US incarceration but also in today’s reality of terrible mass incarceration. Dominique DuBois Gilliard gives us a deeply ...more
Jodie Pine
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: racism
Excellent, eye-opening, well-researched book that inspires action. I highly recommend it! Gilliard writes, "I have spent the last fifteen years doing ministry in communities ravaged by mass incarceration, and the last decade working with people directly affected by incarceration. I have worked with juveniles, young adults, and adults trapped in the system, and have walked alongside and ministered to families adjusting to life without their loved ones. I have ministered to individuals in jails, p ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was majorly impactful. As a person who hasn't had someone close to me or even that I know go to jail, my eyes were opened to a completely different story of what's happening in some neighborhoods and communities. It's one of the only books on this subject that I've read, so I can't really compare it to others, but this was a fantastic book on the history of incarceration in the US, the pipeline to prison, and how the church needs to take a stand for justice that is restorative not just ...more
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-during-2019
Eye opening and thought provoking for sure. The author is a compelling speaker, and he really amazed me when he spoke at our church last year. I wish he had a better editor for his book. Some ideas seemed too flushed out and others underdeveloped. Love the focus on restorative practices. I would have liked to see him dig into some of the more difficult ideas. Sure we can all get around not jailing a mom who sold drugs to buy food for her kids. But, what about looking at a murderer who shows no r ...more
Mar 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I went into this one already fairly convinced of some major flaws and shortcomings in the American justice system; this book provided further documentation and also good theological underpinnings for pursuing a new way forward. I would have preferred even more concrete examples of restorative justice and a stronger CTA at the end (since books like this generally leave me feeling, "But what do I *do* about it?") but I suppose I can do some investigation myself. (Note: Homeboy Industries sounds am ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first half is a little repetitive if you've already read Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson, but in the second half I learned a lot about the early history of the American criminal justice system, historical protestant responses to the criminal justice system, prison chaplains and prison ministries. I'm also re-reading the chapter on atonement theory and how it relates to our approaches to justice. ...more
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Doctoral Thesis?

This seemed more like something written to complete a degree than a fair look at our justice system. Plenty of researched facts, but very little balance.
Adam Shields
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short thoughts: This is a book well worth reading. I think the main problem of it is that it is trying to do too much. There is 199 pages of main content and in that, he tries to have shortened version of New Jim Crow, trace the (mixed bag) line of Christian reform movements within prison, make a theological argument for restorative model over retributive model and convince people that systematic racism is a part of the whole history of the criminal justice system.

I glanced around at negative r
David Bjorlin
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In Rethinking Incarceration, Dominique Gilliard deftly brings history, theology, and ethics to bear upon the moral crisis of mass incarceration in the United States. The first section builds off of the seminal work of Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stephenson and serves as an indispensable primer on the ongoing racial imbalances and influences of slavery on our society. He demonstrates how slavery continued under different names in different eras through the racist practices of convict leasing, Ji ...more
David Andrianoff
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Gilliard’s Rethinking Incarceration provides valuable insights into U.S. criminal justice system and unjust incarceration. He points out (p. 46): “While our criminal justice system has repeatedly manifested unbalanced scales and partial judgments—particularly for poor minorities—many Christians remain the staunchest defenders of our justice system.”

Regarding capital punishment, why can’t followers of Jesus, a victim of the death penalty, “rebuke capital punishment as an antiquated, inhuman meth
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book explores the history of mass incarceration in America, discussing the War on Drugs, the “war on immigration,” the gross imprisonment of people suffering from mental health disorders, the role school suspensions and the presence of School Correctional Officers play in the “school-to-prison pipeline,” and the danger of for-profit prisons and prison bed quotas. There are so many systemic factors that are serving to over-populate our prisons and disproportionately incarcerate people of col ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
There are two lines of thought going on in this book. The first is the case for restorative justice in our criminal justice system. The second is a theological argument connecting a belief in penal substitutionary atonement(PSA) to a comfort (at the least) with retributive justice being the focus of our criminal justice system, encouraging us to rethink a commitment to PSA. I believe the first line of thought is worth the price of the book alone.
In the past decade, I've found myself more and mor
Alisha Greenlaw
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book left me feeling all kinds of ways. I had no idea that mass incarceration was built off the back of slavery and began as a form to pretty much legally use the minorities, disabled, sick, and other "unwanted" people [basically] for cheap labor. There are so many great arguments in this book; it's rather heavy and wasn't a quick read, but it was well worth my time. I loved that it was laced with lots of research and quotes instead of just some guy's opinion. I've began truly thinking abou ...more
Milan Homola
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a must read if you want to challenge your paradigm. Well at least anyone that has paradigms like me: middle class, evangelical, cares about biblical justice, doesn't want to be blinded to social injustices. This book helped me see just how much I don't see. The incarceration and racism issues in American society have a draw for me. I have a deep desire to understand and hear from people who have experience and know what is happening, yet I also have assumptions and stereotypes that ...more
Andy Montero
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I found this book helpful, challenging and a bit overwhelming. I’m grateful it’s not just informative but also has prescriptive measures that serve to shift us in the right direction. Gilliard covers this topic by exploring the five major pipelines:

1. The War on Drugs
2. The Crackdown on immigration offenses
3. Decreased funding for mental health
4. The privatization of prisons and detention centers
5. The School-to-prison pipeline

He exposes each pipeline as being “built on a legacy of racist and cl
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Dominique DuBois Gilliard is the director of racial righteousness and reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC). He serves on the boards of directors for the Christian Community Development Association and Evangelicals for Justice. In 2015, he was selected as one of the ECC’s “40 Under 40” leaders to watch, and the Huffington Post named ...more

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53 likes · 14 comments
“We cannot incarcerate ourselves out of addiction. Addiction is a medical crisis that—when it comes to nonviolent offenders—warrants medical interventions, not incarceration. Decades later, data unequivocally illustrates that this war has been a massive failure. It has not only failed to reduce violent crime, but arrest rates—throughout its tenure—have continuously ascended even when crime rates have descended.” 7 likes
“While many have depicted the War on Drugs as a Republican initiative, the drug war was a bipartisan effort. This rhetoric of law and order deployed by politicians won elections nationwide, from races for local council seats to the presidency.” 2 likes
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