we each have only this one fragile, precious life…

This video was shot by Jenn Ackerman in a US prison… it could have been shot here. It’s hard watching, but it tells the right story – the feeling i get in my gut when i watch it is the same feeling i get when i go into some of the prisons here. There’s some text that accompanies the video. you can read that here.

Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons from Jenn Ackerman on Vimeo.

In our research into communal justice we’ve heard of judges here in Victoria who have been giving prison sentences to people with mental illness because there is no other way they can get them access to mental health services. That’s an indictment on our community.

The three areas we’re focussing on with the communal justice project are mental health in prison, alternatives to sentencing, and post-release support. One of the reasons i value being part of a denomination is that we have some voice within political circles. Maybe, just maybe, that means we’ll be able to influence some policies about all of this.

The thought that echoes through my mind as i watched the video is the same one that i have each time i go into a prison… we all have only this one fragile, precious life… it is unspeakable tragedy that this is how someone’s unfolds.


  1. The shocking thing about it for me is not just that it happens, but that we seem so powerless – individually and collectively – to do anything meaningful about it. This is just one more of those difficult, tragic situations that society throws into the growing ocean of intractable problems. I’d love to see a church brave enough to tackle the issue head on – not just siphoning money into a programme that operates behind the scenes (noble and important though that may be), but actually play that video to its congregations and challenge them to find a solution – if enough churches did that often enough, surely a solution would present itself. If on the other hand I’m just being naive and there is in fact no solution, then there’s no point us being on this planet. Or at least that’s how it seems to me.

    Either way, it’s horribly tragic.

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