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Bethany junior Kyle Snyder (Berkey Avenue Mennonite) was one of four students nationwide recognized in the 2015 MCC Washington Office High School Essay Contest.

Jared Knepper, a senior at Shalom Christian Academy in Chambersburg, Pa., won the grand prize. Snyder, along with Isaac Brenneman of Bethany Christian Schools and Brooklyn Ries of Freeman (S.D.) Academy, earned honorable mention. The grand prize winner receives $300 and honorable mention winners receive $100 each.

Snyder’s essay was titled “Shortcomings of Mass Incarceration in the U.S.” Following is an excerpt:

“Federal and state prisons, however, use retributive justice as the main focus for rehabilitating prisoners. This is perhaps one of the worst methods for effectively reducing recidivism within prisoners…. One alternative is restorative justice, which deals with the criminal accepting their prosecution and helping to find a feasible solution which both helps the prisoner realize the problem, and finds a mutually acceptable solution that is fair…. Retributive and restorative justice mainly differ because of the interaction the victim and the prisoner have in deciding the punishment.

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.

MCC contest rules state that “The 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.”