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Mass incarceration is a social, economic concern

BY STAN BASLER Published: December 26, 2012

This summer, concern was expressed at an Oklahoma City Board of Education meeting that criminal records are preventing parental voluntarism at school functions. The study cited above found that as of July 2006, convicted felons constituted 8.2 percent of Oklahoma's adult population.

Oklahoma has numerous private prisons that require human beings as inventory in order to provide stockholders with dividends. In some cases they were courted to come here in the name of economic development. They have a business interest in long sentences and mass incarceration. The highest and best use is sought for real property. The prevalence of mass incarceration suggests a decision that for some people the highest and best use is imprisonment.

Mass incarceration is an economic concern. Has it reached the point that it's also a moral concern?

Basler is visiting professor of restorative justice and prison ministry at the Oklahoma City University branch of the Saint Paul School of Theology of Kansas City, Mo.