(Photo courtesy of Shalom Christian Academy)

Jared Knepper, a senior at Shalom Christian Academy in Chambersburg, Pa., earned grand prize for his essay on mass incarceration in the U.S. in the MCC U.S. Washington Office annual essay contest.

WASHINGTON – Jared Knepper, a senior at Shalom Christian Academy in Chambersburg, Pa., has earned grand prize for his essay on mass incarceration in the United States in the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. Washington Office annual essay contest.

In his essay, Knepper analyzed the causes and ramifications of mass incarceration in the United States, while also examining solutions to one of the United States’ most significant problems. Knepper quoted a notable New York Times piece which observed that the “American experiment in mass incarceration has been a moral, legal, social, and economic disaster,” and urged fellow Christians to “continue to alleviate the pains of injustice that surround us.” Knepper’s essay, entitled “Antithesis of Freedom: The Intolerable Reality of Mass Incarceration in the United States,” was chosen from a competitive selection of entries from across the country.

In addition to the grand prize, national honorable mention prizes were awarded to Brooklyn Ries of Freeman (S.D.) Academy, and Isaac Brenneman and Kyle Snyder, both of Bethany Christian Schools (Goshen, Ind.). Snyder and Ries also focused on mass incarceration, while Brenneman focused on the Central American migration crisis.

The essay contest highlights the perspectives of youth on significant public policy issues and promotes the involvement of young people in faithful witness to government authorities.

The annual contest is open to Anabaptist youth of high school age and to all youth who attend Mennonite high schools. Entries are judged on the participants’ understanding of the issues, clarity of argument and degree of creativity in crafting thoughtful policy positions. Grand prize is $300, and honorable mention winners each receive $100.

Excerpts from the winning essays can be found online at washingtonmemo.org.