With Murder Up, Alabama City Turns to Crime-Scene Evangelism


The Atlantic reports on Operation Good Shepherd, a publicly funded Christian outreach ministry started by the Montgomery, Ala., Police Department that puts Christian pastors on crime scenes to counsel and pray with victims and witnesses. Police claim the program is a way to regain trust in the community, but there’s another motive, which they aren’t at all coy about: evangelism—they believe a stronger sense of Christianity will reduce crime. But it's not entirely clear that the program is legal, and there is no evidence a program like this can have any effect on crime.

So far this year, 39 people people have been murdered in Montgomery, the vast majority of them black. With a population of only 200,000, those numbers make Montgomery among the most violent cities per capita in the country. If the pace keeps up, 2013 will be the city's most violent year in four decades. There are a few common sense explanations: a weak economy; high unemployment rates; the third-highest incarceration rate in the country; severe cuts to the state’s rehab and mental health clinics.

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