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Rabbi Resigns Chaplaincy in Protest Against Prison System

A California rabbi who rejects completely the existing outlook on crime which “puts men in prisons instead of hospitals.” has resigned as Jewish chaplain at San Quentin, Folsom and Alcatraz prisons.

Because society “has not yet learned that crime is but another form of mental or emotional disturbance, ” being a prison chaplain was “so futile, ” said Rabbi Julius A. Leibert, that he could no longer continue. “All I could do was listen with never a say where it mattered for the men. “

“Prisons are a carry-over from the dim, cruel, unenlightened past, ” he asserted, adding that such institutions should be called “hospitals, ” with inmates considered as receiving treatment rather than punishment.

He called inmates of San Quentin “poor, sick persons” who were “compelled, time after time , to commit crimes” because they were “inadequately treated as sick persons.”

Asserting that he would never want to know “what it is like to accept money from the state for acting as chaplain during an execution, ” Rabbi Leibert said the chaplain should never be a paid employe of the state. Under such circumstances, he said,”he is no longer a man of God but only an institutionalized piece of claptrap.”

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