The Justice Sytem: A Discussion with Pastor Rich Schwoegler
What is Justice?
Justice at its core is the ability to fairly judge and/or enforce ruling. In a more profound analysis, justice is to see all people through the eyes of God, thus, enabling us to chastises one another by holding each other accountable of our actions, as God does. This allows us to change things within ourselves that are wrong and that go against God’s nature.
Who is Pastor Rich Schwoegler?
Pastor Rich Schwoegler served as police officer for 27 years in Milwaukee, WI. Now, he is a Pastor, Chaplain, and one of many critics of our current justice system.
His greatest concern is that our system is a punitive system in which the incarcerated individuals are set up to fail. He shared:
“originally, the justice system was set up to change a person’s behavior, which society deemed wrong. I am not sure the vision carried out its purpose to rehabilitate people coming through the system in changing their behavior. I believe the current system that is in place produces worse people than they were before incarceration.”
Pastor Schwoegler suggests a change in philosophy, where, rather than punishing, the system would include a process of rehabilitation or a healing process.
A New Philosophy
Pastor Schwoegler describes the following:
“the system would still be in place with a trial, courts, etc., except there would be a mandated ruling to begin healing in an individual. For this to take effect, we first must ask, ‘Why have they done what they did? What is the root problem?’”
He considered that counselors, psychologists, ministers, and other spiritual, or faith based people would be a part of this healing process, emphasizing that ministers must take a more active role.
Pastor Schwoegler mentioned that a jail system would still be in place for the hard core crimes including rape or murder. However, individuals would still receive council in jail and after jail. He suggested:
“while in jail and then coming out of jail people would continue to attend healing sessions, and a reentry program must be mandatory. It would not be hard to make this happen, a team of people can wrap around each incarcerated person and their families as well. We then build relationships, thus seeking to destroy the root problems and we empower them to make changes. Upon being released from jail, the individual would pick a program, a dream center, or religious organization where he/she would take up the healing process. The program can be a one year long mentoring/discipleship program to acclimate them back into society, while teaching them new skills, and most importantly providing healing to rooted issues.”
Lastly, Pastor Schwoegler suggested that the law enforcement should be held accountable to train police officers by teaching them to identify the root cause of a situation. Pastor Schwoegler addressed:
“right now, the solution to a police response is a quick fix, they don’t have time to deal with so many calls and honestly it isn’t their role to fix the problem, but, they should have the tools to refer victims and perpetrators to get the help they need. Police officers should be trained to assess the situation and refer people to jobs, GED programs, churches, or dream centers. When they respond to calls they need to look “out of the box” and identify how they can help to solve a problem, when police officers do that, their job becomes more satisfactory and joyous. It changes their perspective of the people as well.”
Pastor Schwoegler’s Surrender All Ministries program called Community Healing Integrative Program is a combination of different groups working together to bring change to the community including: police officers, government, churches, and nonprofit organizations. You can read a more profound analysis on community unity to create change by reading my article Building Trust Between the Police and the People: A Community Initiative.
Pastor Schwoegler strongly emphasis:
“the time is now and there are no excuses! Each one of us has an awesome destiny that God preordained for each of our lives! It is up to us to make the changes we are seeking in our cities. Our destinies have people attached to them and they are waiting for us! We need to look at each person the way God sees them, loving them and empowering them to change the things in their lives, through the supernatural love of Christ!”
Pastor/Chaplain Richard Schweogler