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 also maintain a daily blog, The Catholic Eye, https://catholiceye.wordpress.com/
The work connected to the apostolate is listed under the home page categories which I will be expanding as needed.
Lampstand Letter 2015 Prison Reformed, Published in America Magazine, February 23, 2015, written in response to the America article Prison Addiction, http://americamagazine.org/issue/prison-addiction
DAVID LUKENBILL MR | 2/21/2015 – 8:00pm .
The term “mass incarceration” is reminiscent of the Marxist theoretician’s use of “class” in their analysis of social structure, and helps drive a picture that the only “class” inside prisons are the poor, especially the minority poor; an argument sadly and ironically more representative of Communist countries than America.
The reasons American prisons are full is twofold: on the one hand liberal legislators have stopped new prison construction, especially in California and New York, and on the other hand, the full prisons are a result of effective broken windows policing and three strikes sentencing; which have resulted in a decades long crime rate reduction; which is now in danger due to the effectiveness of the “mass incarceration” narrative.
I know better than most that prison is not a fun place to be, having spent 12 years of my 20 years as a professional criminal—my crimes were theft and robbery—within several maximum security federal and state prisons, as well as many local jails; but it is the only effective way we have, as a society, to isolate the criminal, the often dangerous aggressor, from the often innocent victims of crime.
This form of incapacitation, imprisonment, is extremely effective in this regard, though also expecting it to function as an effective rehabilitative venue has proven, so far, to be a failure.
I was a chronic offender and I know that each arrest and commitment to jail or juvenile hall, was, for me, just another step in the building of my criminal career, a path I had chosen by the time I was barely a teenager; a path of glamour and freedom that consumed my life for decades; and rather than being scared by the many jail or prison experiences, I was heartened by them as they put me in close contact with my real peers, other professional criminals.
This is where I also became acculturated to the criminal/carceral world, learning its mores, adapting its artifacts, living its ways, a way of life I only finally became completely free of after becoming Catholic and being baptized, when the final remnants of the predatory and self-centered criminality that had informed my life for so many years gushed out of me in the deep tears shed during baptism when my sins were forgiven me.
Yes, we need prisons, for they are the only civilized way to isolate the aggressor from the innocent; and they must be civilized, which the majority of prisons in the United States are.
Based on my experience and validated by my research, criminal justice policy and practice sways between the liberal rehabilitative program approach and the conservative policing, sentencing, and incarceration approach, and right now we do appear to be swinging back to the liberal, but it is my hope that we can, as a society, develop and keep only those programs that are rigorously evaluated and proven successful, while retaining policing, sentencing and incarcerative strategies that have already proven their success reducing crime.
The most important thing we have to do, in my opinion, is to remember what most of us already feel to be true; that becoming a professional criminal is largely a result of an individual decision, and becoming truly reformed will also come about as the result of an individual decision; and in the making of this individual decision, those reformed criminals who work with other criminals to help them get on the path they have already traveled, are a valuable asset, perhaps the very best asset, that is still too rarely utilized.
David H. Lukenbill, President
The Lampstand Foundation
It takes a reformed criminal to reform criminals.
Retrieved May 7, 2015 from http://americamagazine.org/issue/prison-addiction