The Wicca’ed

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metallic_wiccan_triple_goddess_symbol_by_shaktya-d4saiqwAn appellate court judge in California recently overruled a lower court judge’s dismissal of a suit filed by Wiccan inmates requesting the state of California provide Wiccan prisoners in the California penitentiary system with a Wiccan chaplain to administer to their spiritual needs, since five other religious denominations already have their own chaplains provided by the state. A challenge as to whether or not there are sufficient numbers of Wiccans in California prisons to warrant their own chaplain was introduced as a counter-argument in the case but was refuted by a chaplain of another faith currently under contract to the California penal system who affirmed that Wiccans make up a substantial number of the current prison population. The trial court judge who initially dismissed the case has been ordered by the appellate court to reconsider the suit and conduct a thorough inquiry into the merits of the case. Is Wicca growing to be a mainstream denomination in “Christian” America or are prisoners becoming more inclined to embrace the tenets of the Wicca belief system?

The simple fact is American prisons are so overcrowded that even less than mainstream denominations such as Wicca are well-represented. Thanks to the war on drugs and America’s for-profit, privatized prison system we now have the highest percentage of our population incarcerated of any nation in the world. In the land of the free, more citizens are in jail here than anywhere else. There is a strong economic incentive for private prison corporations to spend millions of dollars lobbying American politicians to enact harsh mandatory sentences for even non-violent crimes so that American tax dollars will continue to flow unimpeded into the coffers of private prison corporations. Consequently when private enterprise makes a profit from prisoners we will inevitably have more and more American’s sentenced to prison along with illegal aliens seized by immigration agents, regardless of the principles of justice. The American justice system has always disproportionately targeted black Americans for higher rates of arrests, convictions and harsher sentences so that trend has also increased with the drive for higher corporate profits. Until more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana and Americans start rejecting the Republican mania for privatizing every public institution formerly under the control of the American people, our nation can hardly be called the Land of the Free.

(c) March 3, 2013 – Bethany Ariel Frasier

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