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 ten books and each one of my books is 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 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.
Unpublished Work, The Carceral & the Criminal World
An excerpt from my new book still in draft form:
The Carceral & the Criminal World
One of the most significant developments in the criminal justice system over the past few decades is the impact of the carceral on the criminal world.
The American prison creates its own environment, its own world, which spreads outward, embracing the terrain where the released wander predatorily, continually reshaping and remaking the criminal world in its own evolving image.
As the number of criminals moving from the carceral to the outside world—becoming a critical mass in some neighborhoods—the influence of the carceral world spreads to that neighborhood, further criminalizing it.
In California the development of the criminal world related to the carceral is strongly congruent and the confused evolution of the California prison—from punishment to rehabilitation and back, and back once more—forlornly retains the uncertainty of the institutional world and the clarity of the criminal world within the carceral.
The carceral world looms underneath the criminal world—holding it up as it were—shaping the criminal world’s leaders as they pass into and out its steel gates.
Mastering the carceral experience within the maximum security prison is a culturally defining experience determining criminal strength, tenacity, and boldness, much as similarly defined for the non-criminal through mastering the social, athletic, and intellectual rigor of the maximum prestige academy.
And yet the prison is also the most penitential of institutions—so correctly analyzed in its reverential and redeemable components—but rarely seen by Marxist oriented criminal justice academics (who have been shaping the narrative of the American academy since the 1970s) as that place of exclusion and penance which it is, but more often through the lens of theory critically finding dark motives and capitalistic strategies at work.
Transformation had once been considered a desirable aspect of the prison time given to the criminal, and the transformation was to be hoped for as a pure result of prison itself.
For the first century of America’s experience with prisons, deeply influenced by religion, it is understood that this occurred more often than not.
Since the 20th century, with its corresponding complexity induced by the majority of humans living in the urban environments of the criminal city; prison induced transformation lost ground as a new meta-narrative extolling criminal exploits became part of the social fabric.
In the time we live in, with ethnic, religious, and national myths being folded and blended with the outlaw as hero, a much more convoluted terrain emerges, requiring guides to traverse.
The answer is in the problem. The answer is within the outlaw mind.
From a Catholic historic perspective the prison performs a necessary penitential and reformative function, an attribute still relied on yet rarely seen.
For the public, the need for the prison is more than the rational reaction of fear to that uncertainty arising from dangerous men and women, and how to be protected from them. It is also the shutting away of that which is feared, the other, which public criminal justice policy too often allows to grow without responsibility while assuming that the real cause of crime is something vague out there, rather than individual predatory thoughts shaping individual predatory actions; rather an individual moral decision than an unconscious reaction to social forces.
There are hundreds of thousands of people in prisons in the United States representing untold millions of crimes committed, many unaccounted and uncharged, for the criminal as supreme opportunist commits much more than he is ever arrested, charged, and committed for; a danger deep as the ocean.
In my work as a capacity building consultant to nonprofit organizations, when the strategic discussion concerns the continued utility of a specific course of action, I will bring the discussion back to the founding vision and mission of the organization and from that base, try to determine if indeed, the course of action under discussion is still appropriate.
The founding mission of prisons—punishment and redemption— has not lost its utility, nor the use of cellular confinement and separation of the criminal from the innocent as a protective and penitential response as well as a redemptive stimulation.
The growth of the carceral culture within the criminal world is a dangerous influence which is manifest, and increases as criminalization deepens through carceral influence on cultural reality.
Combat and the rules of strategy are important capabilities criminals share with the military—of being able to distance yourself from what your emotions are doing and what your body wants to do when confronted with prison life or war. You have to will yourself to act, separating yourself from the urge to panic if you are to survive, whether in prison or battle. How one responds to the carceral is a crucial element in the development of criminal world leadership as is that of the soldier in battle crucial to military leadership development.
Criminals who have transformed their lives must speak and help shape the future formation of criminal justice so that it may reach its aspiration of protecting the public and reforming criminals—not currently happening with a 70% recidivism rate—which has little to do with tending to unconsciously generated symptoms, but much to do with transforming suffering into teaching.
The criminal world’s leaders understanding is that the criminal is punished for being in congruence with the same reality accepted as true by the punishers.
Within the maximum security prison where criminal world leadership serves time, there exists a long-term solitude-generating contemplation, intimately woven through the Catholic pursuit of spiritual perfection.
For the criminal prior to transformation, this contemplation revolves around the purity of their attachment to the truth of the criminal world, their life in the city of men, most dreadfully realized in the prison itself.
The prison is the truth of the city of men writ hard, writ clearly in steel and stone that none can misunderstand its moment nor its animating core reality.
This lays unconsciously under the day thoughts of most whose work calls them to develop policy around the prison and criminal world—and the politics around prisons are strong—but in the continual struggle around their use and purpose.
Over the past 70 or 80 years in this country, since the depression of the 1930’s, a criminal culture has developed which has become impenetrable, so that attempts by criminal rehabilitation practitioners are—and statistics bear this out—a dismal failure.
Attempting to describe this world for those practitioners so that they can find success in it is probably not a fruitful avenue at this moment in rehabilitative history, but the development of reformed criminals, who are cultural leaders, to advance their education and training in helping other criminals transform their lives, would be.
This section was formerly published in another form in the book: Carceral World, Communal City, by David H. Lukenbill, published in 2008.