In 1986, Jens Soering, a naive and arrogant undergraduate, made a terrible decision.
Under the spell of a disturbed young woman, he became implicated in the horrendous murders of her parents. Infatuated and poorly advised, Soering assumed that as a German citizen he could take the blame for the murders, be extradited, and serve a limited sentence in his home country. He was wrong. He was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and placed in a maximum-security prison in Virginia. Twenty years later, and with little hope of parole or extradition, he continues to serve out a sentence for crimes he insists he did not commit.
Such a punishment might have destroyed him. However, a chance encounter with the work of Fr. Thomas Keating
enabled Soering to leave the cycles of despair, anger, and emotional turmoil he was going through and discover the transformative power and practice of Centering Prayer. In The Way of the Prisoner
, Soering explains just how he came to experience God's grace in the direst of circumstances and how that grace forced him to confront the past and recognize the beauty and redemptive hope possible in his current situation. A moving, true story that shocks and inspires, The Way of the Prisoner
illustrates how we can all transform our crosses and our prisons (literal or metaphorical) into hard earned wisdom.
While Jens Soering manages to survive his incarceration, America's prisons continue to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of inmates, many of whom are either mentally ill, non-violent, or illiterate before being incarcerated, and utterly incapable of surviving in the world once they get out. In An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse
, Soering avoids the usual bromides about prison reform to make an impassioned and fully resourced argument (one, uniquely, from a current inmate) that the current penal system is not only inefficient in controlling crime but inept at providing appropriate punishment for offenders.
Soering's next book, The Church of the Second Chance
, explains how victims, offenders, and society at large can heal through a restorative approach. Each chapter features a scriptural lawbreaker who was granted a second chance through divine mercy, then examines a crucial problem besetting our jails and penitentiaries and demonstrates how people are working today, in and out of prison, to apply God's word to our own lives and times.
Soering's most recent title for Lantern is One Day in the Life of 179212
, a disturbing, sometimes comic, hour-by-hour chronicle of the daily life of a prisoner, and a searing indictment of the twisted logic, lost lives, and hopeless situations that exist in America's prisons today.
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