The Possibilities of Peacemaking: Can Offenders Find Forgiveness at Life's End?

Kimberly D. Dodson, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Often what starts out as a human issue becomes a criminal justice issue. End-of-life care is one example of a human issue that has undeniably become a criminal justice issue. In the United States, we have witnessed an increase in the number of aging and chronically and terminally ill being admitted to and cared for in prison. Given the increasing number of aging inmates and the increasing prevalence of chronic and terminal illnesses in prison, the delivery of end-of-life care services has become a central concern in many correctional facilities. However, to date, few research studies have examined end-of-life care within the correctional setting. Of the existing research, the majority of studies focus on providing for the physical care of the dyning inmate, ignoring the importance of spiritual care. In the last two decades, health care professionals have begun to realize the important role that spiritual care plays in the death experience. Among the most prevalent spiritual care concerns expressed by those who are dying is the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. This paper explores the possibilities of peacemaking at life's end and whether forgiveness and reconciliation are possible for dyning inmates.

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Updated 05/20/2006