Stan Moody

POB 240 Manchester, ME 04351 207/626-0594 January 18, 2011
Stan Moody of Manchester, ME, former Maine State Representative and most recently a Chaplain at Maine State Prison in Warren, is advocating for transparency and accountability in Maine·s prison system«A prolific and published writer, Dr. Moody is pastor of the Meeting House Church in Manchester and has been a speaker on human rights issues at conferences around the nation«

Prison Reform: Denial Is a Church in Maine
In my talks to groups about the burgeoning corrections industry in Maine, the least receptive to change is often the one community that claims a divine calling to right the wrongs of human injustice ± the church. Invariably white and dominated by the trappings of worldly success, churches seem almost to have become havens of denial of the sin from which they offer deliverance. A case in point is the attitude toward sex offenders. Redemption, it seems, is available to all except the vilest of sinners ± those who take advantage of children. On that score, it is impossible to imagine more destructive effects on children than that of physical abuse, divorce and addiction, three cultural cesspools to which the church historically is not immune. In the case of Sheldon Weinstein, a brilliant sex offender whose life was casually cut short on April 24, 2009 by the complicity of staff at Maine State Prison, the unexpressed echo in the sanctuary reflects the more audible sentiment of both prison staff and their wards, ³He deserved to die.´ That may well be true of us all at some esoteric level, but there was nothing in Weinstein¶s sentencing that imposed the death penalty. Unless and until the church begins to view itself as a hospital for sinners, it will continue to promote the popularly-rejected assumption that its members are a cut above reproach. Despite this, however, it is my contention that the church in America, having assumed the mantle of the right to redemption, is the last best hope for prison reform. The corrections industry has become too militarized to change. The judicial system has largely been crushed by the weight of its laws. Survival of elected officials is too intertwined with suburban fear. The media has become more
Prison Reform Denial-Is-A-Church-in-Maine

populist than counter-cultural and cultural America readily yields to outward appearance that too often masks the secret evils that beset us all. To rise to the occasion, the church must break out of its comfort zone of respectability. Awaiting its compassion are victims of sexual abuse, families of sexual abusers and registered sex offenders who are ostracized at every turn. That is almost enough to turn the least righteous stomach among us, is it not? An August 6, 2009 article in The Economist highlighted the case of Wendy Whitaker, a 17-year old pupil sitting near the back of a classroom and yielding to the suggestion of a 15-year old boy that she could perform Clintonesque oral sex on him without anyone noticing. She was arrested and charged with sodomy, a Georgia law covering oral sex. Her court-appointed attorney, whom she met 5 minutes before her hearing, sold her on a guilty plea. She was sentenced to 5 years probation. She violated her probation on a technicality, resulting in a 1-year sentence in the state¶s women¶s prison. Wendy finished her probation in 2002, but Georgia law puts sex offenders on the public registry, making her name, photograph and address accessible online with no details as to the nature of her crime. The assumption is that she did something horrible to a helpless child. ³She sees people whispering and parents pulling their children indoors when she walks by,´ the article states. Sex registrants in Georgia are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of anywhere children may congregate. When a church at the end of her street opened a day care, Wendy was evicted from her home. In April, 2006, a vigilante crossed the border from Canada into Maine and shot and killed 2 registered sex offenders, one of whom had been convicted of having consensual sex with his 15-year old girlfriend when he was 19. A website,, heralded the shooter, Stephen Marshall, who later committed suicide, as a hero: ³Thank you very much, Stephen Marshall. You brought to life the fantasy of many male victims. May you rest in peace.´ While murder and suicide do indeed impose a bizarre form of peace, the peace that the church professes to offer comes from elsewhere. Could it be that that source has been forgotten or abandoned in the rush to judgment?

Prison Reform Denial-Is-A-Church-in-Maine

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