The Lampstand Foundation is a 501 c (3) nonprofit corporation I founded in Sacramento, California in 2003 as a lay apostolate built on the social teaching of the Catholic Church, to provide leadership development tools for community & prison apostolates—managed by reformed criminals—working to reform criminals.
Inspiring criminals who have transformed their lives, secured college degrees, and returned home to Rome; to show others the transformative path, and how the pain of suffering can become the power of teaching.
To transform the repentant criminal, suffering from his distance from God, into a deep knowledge leader who can teach other criminals the path to redemption through the Catholic Church.
Our Core Beliefs
Suffering transformed builds souls. Just as the muscle tissue tearing that leads to greater physical muscle growth resulting from body building, suffering is soul tearing which, through redemption, allows soul growth.
1) Deep knowledge leadership—college-educated, transformed criminals, professionally trained to manage criminal transformative organizations—will dramatically improve the effectiveness of criminal transformation.
2) Catholic social thought forms the intellectual and spiritual foundation of criminal transformation.
3) Grassroots criminal transformation organizations need ongoing access to capacity building services.
4) Business and professional leadership, working to create community social capital through the transformation of criminals, will benefit from gaining knowledge about Catholic social thought.
We want to facilitate the leadership development of penitential criminals whose personal transformation, education, and reconciliation or conversion to Catholicism has inspired them to seek graduate degrees, professional organizational training, social teaching training, and assume a leadership role in the community helping other criminals transform their lives.
1) To inspire educated and transformed criminals who are baptized Catholics and want to help others, gain a graduate college education and professional training.
2) To provide capacity building tools to criminal transforming organizations about Catholic social teaching, start-up planning, strategic planning, fund development, board development, communications & marketing, and for profit business development.
3) To educate the business and professional community about the leadership capability of educated, transformed criminals and the use of Catholic social teaching as a transformative tool.
Our Apostolate Principles
1) We will defend innocent human life in all that we do.
“80. Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object”. The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts. “Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator.” (Pope John Paul II, 1993,Veritatis Splendor #80)
2) We will work for social justice in all that we do.
“1928. Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.
“1929. Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:
“What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.
“1930. Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy. If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church’s role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1928-1930)
3) We know that our work is with, and through, the community.
“In our time, the role of human work is becoming increasingly important as the productive factor both of non-material and of material wealth. Moreover, it is becoming clearer how a person’s work is naturally interrelated with the work of others. More than ever, work is work with others and work for others: it is a matter of doing something for someone else.” (Pope John Paul II, 1991, Centesimus Annus, #31)
4) We know that Catholic social thought is a transformative social force.
“2419 “Christian revelation…promotes deeper understanding of the laws of social living.” The Church receives from the Gospel the full revelation of the truth about man. When she fulfills her mission of proclaiming the Gospel, she bears witness to man, in the name of Christ, to his dignity and his vocation to the communion of persons. She teaches him the demands of justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom.
“2420 The Church makes a moral judgment about economic and social matters, “when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls requires it.” In the moral order she bears a mission distinct from that of political authorities: The Church is concerned with the temporal aspects of the common good because they are ordered to the sovereign Good, our ultimate end. She strives to inspire right attitudes with respect to earthly goods and in socio-economic relationships.
“2421 The social doctrine of the Church developed in the nineteenth century when the Gospel encountered modern industrial society with its new structures for the production of consumer goods, its new concept of society, the state and authority, and its new forms of labor and ownership. The development of the doctrine of the Church on economic and social matters attests the permanent value of the Church’s teaching at the same time as it attests the true meaning of her Tradition, always living and active.
“2422 The Church’s social teaching comprises a body of doctrine, which is articulated as the Church interprets events in the course of history, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, in the light of the whole of what has been revealed by Jesus Christ. This teaching can be more easily accepted by men of good will, the more the faithful let themselves be guided by it.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2419-2422)
5) We know that corporal works of mercy are essential to comfort the suffering, and that spiritual works of mercy are essential to stop the suffering.
“2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:
He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise. But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you. If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2447)
Our Guiding Criminal Justice Principles
1) Broken windows policing works. Allowing even the minor violation of a broken window in an area helps create the impression of an environment where law and order does not prevail and where crime flourishes. Responding quickly and efficiently to all crimes, regardless of the perceived state of seriousness or other local community concerns, is the foundation of good police work.
2) The response to crime should be timely, balanced, and just. When justice is for sale, either through wealth, influence, or ideology, a fertile soil is created from which crime grows. The training and education of professionals in the criminal justice system is built on a foundation of traditional and well-reasoned concepts of justice and it needs continual reinforcement to remain an effective response to crime.
3) Prison is an appropriate criminal sanction to protect society and punish the criminal, while allowing the opportunity for criminal reformation. Prison is an effective sanction for crime which has been used by human beings since ancient times. It serves to protect the public from predatory crime, acts as a deterrence and as incapacitation, and allows the penitential criminal the opportunity—while removed from the community—to reflect upon and correct his criminal behavior.
4) Capital punishment is an appropriate response to the criminal evil of murder, rape, and pedophilia. Capital punishment is often the only effective social method available to protect the innocent and applied with dispatch after legal review of the crimes charged and determining the fitness of its application, should be considered an appropriate sentence for murderers, rapists and pedophiles; who, knowing the time of their death, are able, with certainty of their remaining time to do so, seek God’s forgiveness. Lane (2010) notes: “During the decade beginning in 1997, five states enacted the death penalty for rape of a child–though the Supreme Court struck those laws down in 2008.” Lane, C. (2010). Stay of execution: Saving the death penalty from itself. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. (p. 66
5) Repentant criminals deserve a second chance. Excepting those cases of serious predatory behavior deserving the death penalty or natural life in prison, repentant criminals, once they have clearly shown—over a ten year period after being released from criminal justice supervision—that they have transformed their life by becoming a productive member of their family, their church, their work, and their community, should be allowed to apply for a complete pardon in a simple straightforward process.
6) It takes a reformed criminal to reform criminals. For generations the ability of non-criminals—even those with the highest professional and academic credentials—to effectively rehabilitate criminals has proven, based on sound evaluations, to be virtually non-existent. Recruiting reformed criminals who have, through education, training, and the development of a deep knowledge leadership approach to criminal transformation, may well succeed where others have failed. Considering the current recidivism rate of 70%, and with the consensus that peer-based help does, at the very least, attract those who want help to transformative programs, it is time to try this approach in a substantial enough way, over time and properly evaluated, to discover if we can rely on it as a valuable tool for large-scale implementation.
7) In the work of criminal reformation, it is vital to keep in mind that the criminal—not society, capitalism, or the criminal justice system—is the problem. Some criminal justice advocates take the position that among the people connected with the carceral world, the good guys are the criminals and the police, district attorneys, prison guards, and the legislators who support stringent criminal sanctions, are the bad guys.
This is the absolutely wrong position, for in virtually any carceral population in America it is the criminals who are the indisputable bad guys, while the good guys are the ones protecting the public from the depredations of criminals. Those who parlay the myths of Hollywood or Marxism into an intellectual stance that fails to understand this basic fact, does everyone a disservice—in particular the penitential criminal—who may find little reason for proper expiation within a culture defining criminality as somehow admirable.
Lampstand’s direct teaching work is supplemented by a monthly e-letter, quarterly newsletter, an annual policy primer research report released on the feast day of St. Dismas on March 25th (nine of these were done completing the series in 2015) , an annual book from Chulu Press , a Lampstand imprint (eleven of these were published completing the series in 2016) and periodic monographs (two of these have been completed so far), A Lampstand Foundation Monograph, Capital Punishment & Matthew 18:6 in 2008 & A Lampstand Foundation Monograph, The Way of the Saints and Doing Life, in 2013.