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Expanding spirituality's role.

Editor's note: The following is an edited version of the closing address Commissioner James Osborne of The Salvation Army delivered at the Conference Jan. 13.

ACA and The Salvation Army have common objectives. We have linked arms together for many years now, and it is a very helpful partnership.

The year 1995 will mark 100 years of The Salvation Army's involvement and interest in corrections. That service probably started from inside jails because in our early days Salvationists in the United States often were imprisoned for their faith. Many in the private sector have a commitment to corrections that equals our own. Increased collaboration with those outside corrections is in our own best interest. We need partners to address today's solutions. We need to strengthen the basic institutions of our country--the family, schools, religious institutions and community groups--to instill values and form law-abiding citizens.

Many of those with a commitment to corrections come from the religious community--prison chaplains, Prison Fellowship, The Salvation Army. Our commitment is spiritually motivated. We are interested in the whole person. Our interest is to trigger life-changing experiences. My friend Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship has said, "People cannot make it coming out of prison unless two things happen--a change in their heart and somebody on the outside who will help them."

Spirituality doesn't get mentioned in many surveys and evaluations of corrections programs. There are no blanks on the evaluation forms for spirituality--only for techniques, resources and credentials. We don't yet have scales to weigh the ability some people have to supply meaning and provide this essential spiritual element. My staff tells me this is the next frontier--research that documents the beneficial results of coupling religious intervention with clinical treatment.

I believe ways of measuring religious factors will soon exist. In the meantime, we need to learn how to blend our motivations to achieve the desired results. We need to change the curriculum from crime to citizenship. In terms of offender rehabilitation, many argue that even if offenders are not hardened criminals when they enter prison, they often leave prison that way.

We all know that prison construction cannot keep pace with offender population projections. It has been estimated that to accommodate growth, 2,000 new jail beds need to be opened each week. Even if they could be built, there would not be enough money to run them.

An ancient Cornish custom to test whether a person was insane confronted the individual with three elements--a spigot, a bucket and a ladle. As water flowed from the spigot into the bucket the person was instructed to keep the water from the bucket. No matter how tenaciously and effectively he ladled water from the bucket to keep it from overflowing, he was judged insane if he failed to turn off the spigot. Well, we often behave in similar, crazy ways. We emphasize revenge over rehabilitation, and restraint over reintegration with society.

I think there are things we can do to make things better. For instance, I believe it is fight that we work for a better public-private partnership. Involving the community in crime management strategies is an important task we all should be working on. Martin Luther King Jr. said it well: "Everyone can be great because everyone can serve." We believe we can challenge our corrections population to not serve time, but to serve the community. It's going to take more than changing faces in Congress to right it. It's going to take public and private partnerships and a change in our nation's curriculum, but together I believe we can do it.

I want to salute ACA for its leadership in corrections reform. We are committed to working closely with you and our other colleagues to meet the challenges that confront all of us today. An unknown author has penned, "When we dream alone, it is only a dream. But when we dream together, it is the beginning of reality."
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Miami; Salvation Army Commissioner James Osborne speech
Author:Osborne, James
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Moving toward 'politics of the community.' (speech by Florida Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay) (Miami)
Next Article:1993 winter conference exhibit hall presents the best in corrections.

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