This website is the home site of my criminal reformation apostolate; here you can find details about the Lampstand Foundation which I founded as a 501c (3) nonprofit corporation in Sacramento, California in 2003.
I have written twelve books, one being about Lampstand and each one of the other eleven being a response to a likely objection to Catholicism that will be encountered when doing ministry to professional criminals; and for links to all of the Lampstand books which are available—free to members—and at Amazon, go to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=david+h+lukenbill
I also maintain a daily blog, The Catholic Eye, https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/
Lampstand also keeps track of rehabilitative programs that fail, and the one or two that appear to work, with the findings available at https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/evaluation-of-reentry-programs-3/
The work connected to the apostolate is listed under the home page categories (to your left) which I will be expanding as needed.
Lampstand Foundation E-Letter
The Criminal Child
One of the major problems with virtually all criminal rehabilitative efforts is the lack of understanding of the criminal/carceral narrative deeply embedded within the professional criminal culture.
Jean Genet’s influence within American prisons started several decades ago with the publication and deep reading by prisoners of the 1963 book by Jean Paul Sartre, Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr.
I read it in McNeil Island Federal penitentiary in the late 1960’s and immediately formed a study group around the ideas—all of which glamorized the criminal/carceral life—in it.
This excerpt in Harper’s Magazine gives a hint of those ideas, which find their fullest expression in Genet’s book, The Thief’s Journal.
“From The Criminal Child: Selected Essays, published this month by NYRB Classics. This text is an abridged version of the essay “The Criminal Child,” which was commissioned in 1947 by the national French radio program Carte Blanche. The show’s producers requested that Genet write on the topic of criminal justice. Genet submitted, in his own words, “not a criminal’s complaint, but rather his exaltation.” The text was rejected. Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman.
“Scattered throughout the French countryside, often in the most elegant locales, there are several places that have never ceased to fascinate me. These are correctional facilities that now bear the official and officious titles Moral Rehabilitation Facility, Reeducation Center, Home for the Rectification of Delinquent Youths.
“One time, a director at one of these institutions showed me, in his desk, a collection he took pride in: some twenty knives belonging to the kids.
“Monsieur Genet,” he said, “the administration requires me to take away these knives. I do so accordingly. But look at them. Are you going to tell me they’re dangerous? They’re tin. Tin! You can’t kill anyone with tin.”
“Didn’t he realize that when an object is removed from its practical purpose it becomes a symbol? Even its form changes sometimes; it becomes stylized. And so it acts silently; it carves ever more deeply into children’s souls. Buried in a straw mattress at night, or hidden in the folds of a jacket, or rather of some pants—not for convenience but to lie nearer the organ it thoroughly symbolizes—it is the very sign of the murder the child will never carry out in reality; instead, it impregnates his dreams and drives them, I hope, toward the most criminal acts. What use is it, then, to take these knives away? The child will choose another, seemingly more benign object to signify murder, and if that, too, is taken away from him, he will guard carefully the object within himself, the image of the weapon.
“I apologize for using language as seemingly imprecise as mine. But weren’t you the first ones to speak of the “power of shadows,” of “the dark power of evil”? You don’t shy away from a metaphor when it can convince. I find metaphors more effective for talking about this nocturnal side of man that can only be explored, that can only be understood once armed and armored and adorned with all the accoutrements of language. When you endeavor to accomplish Good, you know where you’re headed. When it’s Evil, you won’t know what you’re speaking of. But I know that Evil is the only thing that can spark enthusiasm when writing with my pen, a sign of my heart’s allegiance.
“Indeed, I don’t know any criterion for beauty in an act, an object, or a being, other than the song that it rouses in me, that I translate into words to share with you: this is lyricism. If my song were beautiful, if it affected you, would you dare to say that the man who inspired it was vile? You could claim that there are words that have long been charged with expressing the most exalted stances, and that it is those words I use so that the least thing might seem exalted. I could answer that my emotion rightly called forth these words and that they naturally come to serve it. And so, if your soul is low, call it recklessness, the movement that carries the fifteen-year-old child toward offense or crime; I call it by another name. Because it takes some nerve—great courage—to rebel against a formidable society, against the harshest institutions, against laws upheld by the police whose force is in the legendary, mythical, amorphous fear they instill in children’s hearts.
“What drives these children to crime is romantic belief, which projects them into the most magnificent, audacious, and ultimately dangerous of lives. I am translating for them because they have the right to use whatever language allows them to venture. . . Where? you might ask. I do not know. Nor do they, even if their dreams purport to be precise, but certainly it’s outside your homes. And I wonder whether you aren’t pursuing them out of spite, because they sneered at you and they’re abandoning you.
“I won’t make any recommendations. I have been talking not to the educators but to the criminals. And I don’t want to invent any new plan for society to protect them. I trust society; it knows how to ward off the amiable danger that is a criminal child. These children are the ones I’m talking to. I ask them never to feel shame at what they’re doing, to keep intact the rebelliousness that has made them so beautiful. I would hope that there is no cure for heroism. Whoever seeks, out of benevolence or privilege, to attenuate or abolish rebellion destroys any chance of salvation for himself.
“Since we are divided between you who are not guilty and we who are guilty, remember that it’s a whole life that you’re leading on the side of the bar where you believe you have power, are free from danger, and enjoy moral comfort, and we hold out our hands to shake. As for me, I’ve made my decision: I’m on the side of crime. And I’ll help these children, not to return them to your houses, your factories, your schools, your laws, and your sacraments, but to steal them.”
Retrieved December 15, 2019 from https://harpers.org/archive/2020/01/the-criminal-child-jean-genet/
Have a very Merry Christmas!
David H. Lukenbill, President, The Lampstand Foundation
Post Office Box 254794 Sacramento, CA 95865-4794
With Peter to Christ through Mary