Over Jesuit Social Services’ 40 years of work, we’ve crossed paths with other Jesuit organisations and individuals who, like us, support people caught in the justice system. The idea to connect people working in Jesuit prison ministries and the broader criminal justice area prompted us to create the International Jesuit Prison Network in 2013.
The International Jesuit Prison Network supports Jesuit organisations and individuals working with current and former prisoners to collaborate and partner on campaigns. It provides a platform to:
- share experiences and information about local situations
- share ideas about models of practice and interventions
- identify current issues and common concerns where we could work together to address injustice – such as the death penalty, overcrowding and protecting young people in prison
The International Jesuit Prison Network also produces a regular newsletter, as well as a directory of members, to enable people to contact one another directly to discuss issues of joint concern.
Our CEO, Julie Edwards, describes the International Jesuit Prison Network’s place in the history of Jesuit ministry in prisons in a recent article published in Promotio Iustitiae, the journal of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Society of Jesus.
In it, Julie says the work of accompanying prisoners and creating communities of solidarity follows from the Ignatian tradition of reaching out to those most in need.
“Prisoners are a canary in the mine of society, the people who show us the working priorities of society and the way in which societies deal with people who are marginalised,” she says.
“Not only are prisoners at the bottom of the social ladder, their plight rarely attracts sympathy from the general public. For most governments prisoners are not a high priority and many politicians, in their efforts to gain popularity, try to outdo each other in vilifying them. Prisoners are the forgotten people.”
Since launching and leading the International Jesuit Prison Network, we’ve been encouraged by the number of people who’ve reached out to be involved. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we warmly invite others to join. Prisoners and ex-prisoners are among the most vulnerable and marginalised people in every country, and there is benefit in sharing experiences and ideas and mounting advocacy campaigns in partnership across the Jesuit network.