The Justice of God and "The New Jim Crow"

Student Author(s)

Jessica Cronau

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Mark Husbands

Document Type


Event Date



Plato and Aristotle saw justice as the highest of all virtues. In a nation of 320 million, the scale and dramatic effects of violent crime, theft, and trafficking in sex or drugs render elusive the pursuit of virtue and justice. When prominent leaders of the African American community proclaim “We’ve gone from plantations to penitentiaries,” there is ample cause to question the annual expenditure of $74 billion for correctional facilities in the United States of America. Does this system of mass incarceration bring justice? If so, what kind of justice is enacted? Following the teachings of Jesus and the minor prophets, the Christian church is called to seek justice, forgive, and show mercy (cf. Micah 6:8). Far from limiting the justice of God to the domain of retribution, a fully-orbed biblical theology of justice presses Christians to seek the restoration of peace, reconciliation, and shalom, thus calling into question our nation’s misguided appetite for a form of justice divorced from the Gospel virtues of faith, hope, and love. Given the work of Karl Barth and Nicholas Wolterstorff, the distinct contribution of this research lies in providing a theologically robust engagement with Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The research methodology utilizes close readings of primary and secondary sources, theological and historical documents alongside biblical material. The primary goal of this research is to offer the Church a public theology of justice calling all who identify with Christ to respond to mass incarceration in prayer and solidarity with the suffering, reconciliation, and advocacy.

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