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Criminal justice reform through a Jewish lens explored in Hartford

With the recent passage of the new bipartisan bill “First Step Act,” Congress has taken an important step towards criminal justice reform in the United States. With good reason: The United States of America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with 2.3 million Americans are in prisons and jails.

Now, the Chabad of Greater Hartford is launching a six-part series called “Crime and Consequence” that explores the Jewish approach to the challenging questions of crime, punishment and justice.

There will be three sections of the course offered: At Chabad of Greater Hartford, 2352 Albany Avenue in West Hartford, on Mondays, beginning Feb. 4, 7:30-9 p.m.; and on Sundays, beginning Feb. 10, 10-11:30 a.m., and at Chabad East of the River, 25 Harris Street, Glastonbury, on Tuesdays, beginning Feb. 5, 7-8:30 p.m.

The course will address a variety of questions, including: What is the purpose of prison: punishment, deterrence or rehabilitation? What is Judaism’s position on the death penalty? Can criminals ever make amends, and if so, how?

The course draws on ancient Jewish sources, while using contemporary materials to give a modern context to the discussion. The Jewish approach to justice goes well beyond the reforms in the First Step Act, providing alternative sentences for non-dangerous criminals that are tailored to fit the crime, and advocating for rehabilitation programs that continue well after punishment has been served.

The program has won early endorsements from distinguished law professors and criminal justice campaigners such as Dr. John H. Laub, University Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland and Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project.

Connecticut lawyers can receive up to nine CLE Ethics credits for this course.

For information: (860) 232.1116, JewishLearning@ChabadHartford.com, www.ChabadHarford.com/course.

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