I sat recently with a state-level corrections leader who had made time in his busy schedule to have lunch. He was feeling the need for prayer. Though he is a man with an impressive career of leadership, he is new to his job and new to the entire field of corrections. To make matters more challenging, he has stepped into a system with lots of serious, entrenched problems.
What prompted my new friend to take this step? He is a Christian who has known God’s grace. As a youngster, he had a few minor run-ins with the law, but he came to faith and was discipled through a national youth ministry. He wants to follow God’s lead in his life.
When he was presented with this opportunity, he and his wife prayed about it, and they felt a strong sense of calling—to the prisoners, to the staff, and to everyone involved in the corrections system where he is now charged with leadership.
My friend is facing an uphill battle. For many years, the correctional system in his state operated with an overriding “cuff ‘em ‘n’ stuff ‘em” philosophy that says the state’s only responsibility is to warehouse prisoners until their release date, without much thought for how their sentences might prepare them to come home as good neighbors.
As I prayed with him, I was able to encourage him that he is not alone. Prison Fellowship and many leaders across the country are committed to principles of restorative justice, an approach to corrections that is based on the God-given dignity of each human being, and which leads to accountability, restoration, and safer communities for everyone. To learn more about restorative justice, visit https://www.justicefellowship.org/building-restorative-justice.