I’m an American Jew. I’m descended from Jews who immigrated to the United States from Europe in the early 1900s. Growing up, I attended a Hebrew day school, became a bar mitzvah, celebrated the High Holy Days and Hanukkah, went to a Jewish summer camp, traveled to Israel, kept kosher (at times) and ate a fair share of kugel, gefilte fish, and bagels with lox and shmear. But my Jewish experience has been about more than traditions, holidays, and matzo ball soup. Judaism instilled in me a passionate commitment to social justice which manifested in my role as an advocate for harm reduction.
Catholic social teaching is built upon the conviction that every human person bears the image of God. This conviction has social, cultural, economic, and political implications; it demands that we treat all members of our society as fully human persons. Every human person has the right to be provided with the necessary resources to live with dignity, in unity and equality with all people. Responding then to addictions with treatment enables a person to live fully as a member of God’s family. Incarceration not only inhibits rehabilitation but further damages the individuals and their families.