Gary North - Behind Bars!

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Puritan Board Graduate

By the time you're reading this, I'll be locked up. I can hear some critics thinking, "It's about time!"

There is nothing like a weekend in a maximum-security prison to enable a person to appreciate the blessings of liberty.

I do this several times a year. I am part of a volunteer ministry called Kairos. That is the Greek word for "special time," as distinguished from chronos: "clock time." The organization is well-named. It offers a very special time.

Anywhere from 30 to 40 "free worlders" go into a prison. We sit at tables with hardened criminals. There are guys here who you would not like to meet in a dark alley. Yet by the end of this weekend, a few of them will have their lives transformed. I have seen it happen again and again. This is why I keep going back.


In the Bible, the only prisons are in the empires: Joseph in an Egyptian prison, John the Baptist in a Roman prison, Peter and Paul in Roman prisons.

There was no prison system in Mosaic Israel. This was no accident. There were punishments in Mosaic Israel: restitution to the victim, whipping, and execution for certain crimes. But there were no prisons. Why not? Because there was no need. The criminal owed no debt to society.

If a person stole and then got caught, he paid double restitution to his victims (Exodus 22:4). He did not owe anything to society. He had not committed a crime against society. He owed money to his victims.

This weekend, I will be dealing with men who may have committed theft. If I were able to offer them the following option, do you think they would take it?

First, you can serve your time here. Second, you will be released tomorrow, on this basis: you will pay your victims 25% of everything you earn until you have paid twice the value of what you stole from them, plus interest. If you fail to pay or attempt to flee, you will be put back in here for twice your original term.

I don't have to guess. I know what 99% of them would choose: option #1.

Now think of the arrangement from the victim's point of view. He has two choices:

(1) Pay his share of the $50,000 a year it takes to house the thief, or (2) get double his money back plus a tax refund for his share of the saved housing money for the remainder of the man's term.

This decision is called a no-brainer.

Unfortunately, the people who designed the prison system preferred to collect taxes and cheat the victims.

The American prison system was invented in the 1820s, along with the state-run orphanage, the state-run poorhouse, and the state-run insane asylum. Before the 1820s, these institutions were locally funded and operated. Then the reformers got their hands on these institutions and the taxes generated to operate them. (A well-researched book on this is David Rothman's The Discovery of the Asylum [1971].)

So famous was the experiment in its day that Alexis de Tocqueville came to America in the 1830s to see how the system worked. He never got around to writing about it. He wrote Democracy in America instead "“ one of the great books of all time (although it could have used an editor with a blue pencil.)

The prison was supposed to reform men, to make them good. This was part of the Grand Idea: salvation by legislation. The public school system was part of this same messianic program. (See R. J. Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education [1963].)

Now that Grand Idea looks less than grand. The results are in. Mankind has not yet been reformed. Taxes are a lot higher. Crime rates are a lot higher. Literacy rates are a lot lower. But the bureaucratic heirs of the original reformers still serve as caretakers of a clearly botched series of systems.


For three and a half days, a group of mostly average Joes will bring a message of hope to men who have very little hope. We don't offer consolation. We don't offer parole letters. But we do offer hope. And food.

To get them to attend three days of speeches and activities in painful self-examination, we offer food. The ministry understands Paul's description:

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things (Philippians 3:18"“19).

The way to a prisoner's heart is through his belly. So we feed them. They get high-fat ice cream. They get hamburgers with all the trimmings. They get bar-b-que. They get cookies. Oh, man, do they get cookies!

A team takes in 4,000 dozen cookies. We could use 5,000. We leave empty-handed.

In most prisons, cookies serve as currency. Whenever Kairos comes in, the local currency market is disrupted for several days. (There is a Ph.D. dissertation here somewhere.)

The inmates come through the doors on Thursday evening as professional skeptics. They don't trust us. They think, "What's their angle?"

Actually, this isn't all that different from what anyone thinks when he first hears Christianity's message of hope. TANSTAAFL. "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." True: but he who has paid the price for your free lunch has the right to offer you a place at the table.

That's what we do for three days.


Here are a few testimonies from men in one prison where I have served.

My emotional and spiritual condition was on empty. I was walking around dead. The system had taken all hope out of me. . . . Today I am a new creature. I am not alone. I have a family that truly cares about me. . . . Kairos saved my life. . . . My weekend was the best weekend of my life.

~ Bruce A.

I joined Kairos out of selfishness because I couldn't resist the temptation offered by all the things I had heard about how 'great' Kairos was. The Lord really had a surprise in store for me. Since joining, I have given my whole tired life to God. . . . Words cannot explain how truly wonderful and beneficial the Kairos program really is.

~ Frank P.

I am no longer depressed or filled with anger and hatred of all white people. . . . The ministry gave me hope for a future I thought I had lost. I have found peace of mind that I never thought possible. It is not easy being a Christian, but it is fulfilling.

~ Nordling C.

I was a lost person as far as religion went. . . . Now after turning my life over to God, it's like nothing I've ever experienced before. . . . I'm a new me. I wouldn't change back to the old me for anything in the world.

~ Joseph M.

I was hanging on by a thread so small, it could have broken at any moment, but Jesus just would not give up on me. . . . The Kairos ministry has made a big difference in my life. It has reassured me that there are a lot of Christian people out there who really care for people like me.

~ Steven L.

My emotional and spiritual condition before my Kairos weekend was completely dead. I had no emotions and did not care about anyone. . . . I hardly knew anything about religion and despised all Christians. . . . I now live as those people who I used to think of as weak. They have shown me a better life. . . . I could have never made it without the Christians who have helped me.

~ David L.


So, I did not write a report on the state of the economy or the latest hurricane. There is lots of news, most of it bad. Today, I will be focusing on good news. But you won't get to hear this. Take my word for it.

September 24, 2005

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free 17-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2005


Puritanboard Clerk
I don't get it. What are you trying to say?

Actually, seeing the post title I thought...never mind...I figure the government found out that he knew too much...


Puritan Board Professor
Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice

America has a higher per-capita prison population than any country in the industrialized world. One man is sitting in a federal prison because he shipped lobsters in clear package instead of brown wrapping prescribed by some obscure federal regulation. As Tacitus says, "The more corrupt the state, the numerous the laws." Still countless others are wasting their lives away embittered and distraught because they fell pray to an entrapment scheme or some dishonest law enforcement.

If ever Charles Colson was right on something, it would be his call for criminal justice reform based on restorative justice. He wrote a thought-provoking book Justice That Restores and he references a similar book Restoring Justice by Daniel Van Ness and Karen Strong.

People have no idea how corrupt our so called criminal justice system is... Understanding the need for restorative justice is better understand by understand how corrupt and immoral are justice sytem has become. Many people are left embittered with their lives destroyed as they are enticed to commit wrong and break the law by the very people tasked with upholding the law.

I highly recommend reading Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks It's Own Laws? and Tyranny of Good Intentions: How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice if you doubt me. All across America, in various jurisdictions, people that have been deemed suspects for whatever reasons may be subjected to a gaunlet of traps and snares where undercover cops and their informants conspire to tempt people, that they might entrap them, and toss a net over them and say "Aha!" and only to prosecute them. Entrapment is a defense for any crime, but they're creative in their entrapment schemes and some can get around it. Using the defense is a confession.

Because it breaks the law, the government is not your friend. When I arrived on the bench I had impeccable conservative Republican law-and-order credentials. When I left eight years later, I was a born-again individualist, after witnessing first-hand how the criminal justice system works to subvert and shred the Constitution. You think you´ve got rights that are guaranteed? Well, think again. Because the government breaks the law and denies it, the government is not your friend.
"“Judge Andrew Napolitano

Justice Byron White wrote that the government may not "originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent man´s mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the government may prosecute." Investigators are turning into instigators and prosecutors are turning into persecutors. Many people are not even convicted of a crime they were originally suspected of, but rather caught in a gauntlet traps and snares that the police set for them. It might even be something petty where an undercover cop gets a shopclerk to run off with token bribe and has some rouse informant say, "Hey! No one is here, what are will gonna do? We could walk out with this stuff?" Is that what law enforcement should be doing? Tempting people to shoplift!?!?!?! Maybe they would instead instigate battery, and with their jeering crowd of informants posing as friends that might tempt a guy to commit battery (that is grope some woman.) Perhaps they might try and sell you stolen merchandise. That's right, they are not above letting hapless innocents become victims with their prodding and instigation! For parents, how do you like the thought of law enforcement encouraging your teen and twentysomething to commit a crime? Peer pressure? They say "Steal this" or "buy/take this contraband," or "do that!" just so they can arrest them, blackmail or prosecute them. It could have taken something petty and insignificant to get them under the radar and now somebody makes it point to take them down, good and hard. How about some drugs? Or how about something to embarass them... tempt them to go a strip club or tempt them with a prostitute. Their network of instigating informants, rouses, and snitches might be compelled with financial gain to do their instigating or lie to incriminate. Some even get their car payment or monthly rent paid for. "The wicked accept secret bribes to pervert justice." (Proverbs 17:23) All of these things are downright immoral, heinous and wrong!!! It's sinful to instigate crime notwithstanding whether the person falls pray to the temptation! Entrapment and solictation to commit wrong is WICKED AND DEPRAVED and it desecrates the law!!! This is the way of the Pharisees! I don't see how anyone who studies criminal case law long enough or practices law is not keen to this reality. How do you like the idea of this Pharisaic modus operandi being in place? Imagine if you ever crossed a policemen in the higher echelons of power or a prosecutor or someone in his family, or maybe they just found you obnoxious and object of derision to take down and humiliate.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. --Romans 14:13

No man who calls himself a Christian and carries the badge of the magistratative authority can justify and rationalize such behavior. How can a Christian in good conscience tempt people to commit crimes or do wrong? Soliciting crimes is technically illegal in and of itself, but prosecutors obviously don't prosecute their own. Soliciting a felony is a felony. As Napolitano says, "Because the government breaks the law, it is not your friend." Law enforcement ought to rightly be in the business of discouraging crime not instigating it. People who endure this trauma are not left with respect for the rule of law, as they themselves see the agents of law as arbitrary, malicious and capricious.

The practice of police entrapment is a perversion of the policing function, which should be to deter the bad guys police presence or to catch the bag guys when a crime is committed. 'Entrapment' is to law enforcement what 'practice development' is to the legal profession. It´s a business builder. 'Not enough crime to keep us busy,' or 'someone we need to get off the street,' the police say. 'Well, let´s stimulate some crime by tossing out a lure or two. Let´s create some business. Yes, it sounds absurd. Isn't there enough 'legitimate crime' (interesting phrase, that) to keep our police busy? Apparently not, as I can attest from my own experience.;)
"“Judge Andrew Napolitano

In his day of judgment, God will deal severely with corrupt magistrates who embrace the Pharisaic modus operandi of justice. They have to give an account of their lives and they cannot compartmentalize their professional lives from their spiritual lives. As the WCF says, "they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth..." Magistrates that solicit crimes, that lie and deploy deception particularly on a witness stand, that manufacture and manipulate evidence or even worse plant evidence will get a rude awakening one day from the Almighty.

"Rulers have no authority from God to do mischief.... It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God's minister's... No rulers are properly God's ministers but such as are "just, ruling in the fear of God." When once magistrates act contrary to their office, and the end of their institution--when they rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare--they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen."
-Jonathan Mayhew, Boston, 1750

We need a more Biblical system of justice -- one that seeks reconciliation and restoration, a system that discourages crime instead of instigating crime.

PFM: Restorative Justice
Restoring Peace

[Edited on 1-15-2006 by Puritanhead]

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Isn't our justice system tailored after the enlightenment thinker Ceaseri Beccari?

Anyway you guys seem to have the same opinion on the justice system as the majority of African Americans.


Puritanboard Clerk
Originally posted by Slippery
Anyway you guys seem to have the same opinion on the justice system as the majority of African Americans.

Probably. It is tyrannical and the punishment doesn't fit the crime. And we aren't even getting into the idea of "paying out of court," which is a travesty of justice and only favors the rich.


Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by Slippery
Isn't our justice system tailored after the enlightenment thinker Ceaseri Beccari?

Anyway you guys seem to have the same opinion on the justice system as the majority of African Americans.

I don't know exactly what that means. I know there are honest police officers just as there are bad ones, but the corruption and practices that are instutionalized have corrupted the system. I don't naturally assume all the magistrates are corrupt, nonetheless it's wrong to instigate crime or to trying humiliate someone -- end of subject. If I were a judge than I would throw out ever case where entrapment or police solicitation was present. I used to be one of "law and order good Republicans" like Judge Andrew Napolitano was, but I've have since seen the dark side of the criminal injustice system just as he has. Too many preachers and conservative Christians ascribe a benovelence to the state -- despite the fact that they know power corrupts and they are cognizant of man's depravity... The 1990s debacles within the U.S. Justice Department ought to tell people something, but most don't know the half of it. On the same token, I sure as heck wouldn't want to be an America where law enforcement was not present.

When I was pre-law and in law school, I wanted to be an advocate and an attorney for military victims of the "military system" which is arguably much worse than any other. Lack of money scuttled that aspiration... I'll see what the Almighty has in store for me.

[Edited on 9-30-2005 by Puritanhead]

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by Puritanhead

I don't know exactly what that means.
Basically, you guys are poniting out the inherent flaws and short comings of the American Criminal Justice system, albeit from a macro perspective, but African Americans come to the same conclusion from a micro perspective due to their unique position in American society. What I see, is that both groups, Theonomists as well as African Americans are both urging for a reformation of the justice system for it to be more just and fair.

Anton Bruckner

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by Puritanhead
If I were a judge than I would throw out ever case where entrapment or police solicitation was present. I used to be one of "law and order good Republicans" like Judge Andrew Napolitano was, but I've have since seen the dark side of the criminal injustice system just as he has. Too many preachers and conservative Christians ascribe a benovelence to the state -- despite the fact that power corrupts and their cognizance of man's depravity... The 1990s debacles within the U.S. Justice Department ought to tell people something, but most don't know the half of it. On the same token, I sure as heck wouldn't want to be an America where law enforcement was not present.
Can you share some of your experiences. Much thanks.


Puritan Board Professor
Just study criminal case law or read those books I recommended. Read anything by James Bovard particularly Lost Rights


Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Puritanhead
Read anything by James Bovard particularly Lost Rights

:ditto: My wake-up call about tyranny and injustice in modern America came with Ruby Ridge and Waco. Also reading Frederick Bastiat's The Law was very eye-opening.

I think William Penn contributed significantly to our modern penal system which has departed from the Biblical principle of speedy, restorative or capital punishment. Building more and more prison cells and sentencing people to life in prison for murder is akin to time out for children instead of spanking. It tends to breed hate and anger and does not deal quickly and effectively with the sin or crime, and seems more concerned with the comfort of the convicted than the justice due to the society or victim.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Ecc. 8.11

Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? Ps. 94.20

[Edited on 9-27-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]


Puritan Board Professor
I do NOT agree with Colson who is against the death penalty for a capital crime. There are procedural safeguards like automatic appeals in many states. You have to glean out of the substance of restorative justice to get a feel for the ideal reforms.

In ordinary crimes, restorative justice means restoring the victim as well as the offender. The offender needs to be confronted with the impact of his crime and the need for repentance.

Really, there is a broad category of crimes when someone is wronged that doesn't warrant the first-time perpetrator serving a prison sentence, but rather the community requiring that they make restitution for their wrong, thus effectuating the restorative justice principle... That would be a more Biblical prescription and it would save tax money for jails and make the perpetrator see their wrong is not against a mere abstraction like society, but the person they offended...


Puritanboard Clerk
Although I agree with "the punishment fitting the crime," why should that be the standard?

If I rob money from a bank, is it wrong for the state to execute me?
If so, Why? (Don't appeal to the Bible!)

If a rapist kills a little girl, is it wrong for the state to lock him up for a few years and then turn him loose?

What prevents punishments from being unfair and tyrannical (or cruel and unusual)?


Puritanboard Clerk
If man, tyrannical, sinful man, is the standard for determining right from wrong, who is to hold him accountable for his view of crime and punishment? Given the loss of a transcendent standard of right and wrong, crime and punishment, why is giving someone the death penalty when the stole a loaf of bread wrong? Why is allowing Satanists who practice human sacrifice to walk away scot free wrong? Given the premises of the humanists/pluralists, they can't answer the question.

When I heard Greg Bahnsen lecture on this chills went down my spine. Bahnsen: " No longer do men die for crimes against a holy God, but merely for questioning the arbitrary will of the State!"

Bahnsen concludes:

When Crime is not viewed as an offense against the moral order of God, it becomes viewed as an offense against the arbitrary power of the state. If no higher law is adhere to, then the law of man is absolute; there is no logical barrier to stop such a state from becoming totalitarian. When the state's will is susbstited for God's will, then the only real cimes become crimes against the State. Men die for resisting the arbitrary will of the State, then, and not for crimes against a holy God. There is no appeal beyond the State and its rulers when God's law is pust aside. MAN HAS NO REALM OF JUSTICE TO WHICH HE HAS RECOUSE IN OPPOSING THE WILL OF THE STATE.

God's law or tyranny
God's law or judgment
God's law or chaos.

[Edited on 9--27-05 by Draught Horse]

[Edited on 9--27-05 by Draught Horse]


Puritan Board Professor
I don't have a problem with punishment or capital crimes that carry the death penalty-- I just think the punishment should fit the crime and the most resonating theme of my posts is obviously that entrapment, instigation and incitement to crime is wrong... We're obviously changing gears here with your post Jacob... I have no problem with that.

I admit there are serious problems with legal realism and legal positivism which makes the state's will, the highest ascertainable standard of right and wrong in such matters. There is a higher law. Russell Kirk affirms that "what that natural law provides is authority for positive law, not an alternative to positive law." So, one can still accept man-made positive law and embrace higher law -- and in a sense positive law is legitimate insofar as it conforms to higher law. Reconstructionists of course dislike natural law notions because they see natural law as ambigious or discerned by man's falliable reason and not divine revelation. But application of Biblical law is no less susceptible to flawed enforcement, hence the Pharisees of Christ's time. By what standard is a good question? Though, even the natural man can discern that murder, pillage and robbery are wrong.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I'm not going to deal with the theonomy kryptonite...

I'd just like to add that honest, swift justice (including capital executions) and consistent application of the sentence without regard to race or socio-economic status is only going to happen after massive repentance. And maybe a meltdown. And then they will be few and far between. Colson is wrong, but he may be (over)reacting to all the injustice and inequity in the process. But, as the Bahnsen quote points out obliquely, an honest system can accept imperfect justice here on earth, because it believes in a final appeal at the Judgment Seat. He will not condemn the innocent to hell; He will by no means clear the guilty, and allow them into heaven.

And before those atheistical reactionaries can assert that this view leads to "kill them all, let God sort them out" mentality, I appeal 1) to history that proves this not to be the case in the main, but instead that abandoning it leads to tyranny (see Nazis and USSR) or paralysis and inequity (USA); and 2) to the explanation of the above history due to the fact that human judges in this system also fear the Judge, and so (in the main) refuse to corrupt justice.

Keon, it was wierd to wake up one day, and suddenly have it dawn on me that having abjured the system I had felt a part of for so long, along with the many other feelings I had to sort out, I recognized something that must be akin to that which many black persons have long felt--an outsider. But with this difference: I do not see gaining a place at the political table a victory, or demanding recognition of my rights, or taking their money as my payoff for being trodden down. When the underclass finally rejects the government bribes and emancipates themselves from the corruption of their demagogues, they will experience 1) true persecution and 2) true freedom.

Frankly, in certain respects (and very much not in others), the black population is closer to the older American ideals of liberty than most modern whites who take comfort (often unconsciously) in being a part of the system. One local (Cleveland) ministry is called (I think) Black Renaissance. They are Reformed (sort of, anyway, they were part of the welcome mat for local RC Sproul conference [Akron] this month) and they advocate the Bible as the Rule, rebuilding the black family, and abandoning the political path to recovery as inherently enslaving. It's nice to see that kind of effort ongoing.


Puritanboard Commissioner
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by Pilgrim
This was certainly a tantalizing title...

[Edited on 9-28-2005 by Pilgrim]

Here is a better one:

Scary Gary Strikes Again!

I like Gary North, btw.

Behind bars is better, more tantalizing to me. Scary Gary strikes again wouldn't really be that surprising, would it? :bigsmile:

I first became aware of him before I was converted. This was in 1998-99 with his appearances on the Art Bell show speaking on Y2k. I suppose that was "Scary Gary" at his best...or worst. One of his more alarming predictions was "The power grid may well go down and never come back up again!".

North is listed on the paedocommunion site as being an advocate of it.

Does anyone know what North's church affiliation is these days? I think he had moved from Tyler to somewhere in the Ozarks to hunker down prior to Y2k.
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