1. What experiences have you had with prison visitation or helping someone with a painful past become settled in Canadian society? What level of acceptance would someone like Jack McKay, the pseudonymous former inmate in this story, find in your community? What social services would there be to help him? What would happen in your congregation if a former sexual offender began attending?
2. How do you understand Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:31-46 about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting those in prison? The author says he doesn’t ask if his work of befriending a former sexual offender does any good, he says it’s the right thing to do. Do you agree?
3. Why is the idea that punishing offenders is an effective way to keep the public safe so pervasive? What might be the government’s rationale for reducing funding for programs like Circles of Support and Accountability? What is the rationale behind supporting former offenders to re-integrate into society?
4. What are the qualifications for being a prison visitor or a volunteer for Circles of Support and Accountability? What are the challenges and the benefits of this type of volunteering? How much should the church encourage its members to be involved in this type of work?
--Posted March 26, 2014
See also: CoSA: cautious optimism