Saul Green was laid off after 3 ½ years at a job when employers found past criminal charges. Today, he remains unemployed, despite wanting to work and having applied for over 125 jobs over the past 18 months. His unemployment is a collateral consequence of petty crimes that he committed over 15 years ago.
Mr. Green personifies the need for restorative values—including proportionate punishment and closure—in our justice system. On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, he shared his story with over 250 people during “Crime and Redemption: Seeking a Biblical View of Justice,” examining criminal justice reform through a Christian lens.
The event was co-sponsored by Justice Fellowship and Christian Legal Aid of DC (CLADC) and moderated by Craig DeRoche, the head of Justice Fellowship (Prison Fellowship’s advocacy arm). Inside a church just a block from the Supreme Court, Craig led a question-and-answer discussion with two U.S. senators from opposite sides of the political aisle who are leading voices for criminal justice reform.
Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) are followers of Christ, passionate advocates for restorative justice, and friends. They are also two of only 9 blacks in history to serve as a U.S. senator—and the first two elected African-American senators to ever serve at the same time.
For over 30 minutes, Sen. Booker and Sen. Scott provided a lively discussion on areas ripe for criminal justice reform, including mandatory minimums, disparity in sentencing, overcrowded jails, solitary confinement, and collateral consequences for those with criminal records. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear these men passionately express their strong support for bringing restorative justice values to the millions of Americans affected by crime and incarceration.
Equally inspiring was the rapport between the two men as they shared about their faith and the bipartisan reform efforts they support and which are gaining traction in Congress.
Sen. Scott told us, “My mission statement is to positively impact the lives of a billion people with the message of hope, which has a lot to do with financial literacy and opportunity, which has a lot to do with the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.”
Sen. Booker noted, “In a time when there are so many rifts in our country, I hope that God uses us to show what can happen when brothers and sisters come together with open hearts and open minds in service and fealty to the country as a whole.”
It was an informative, entertaining, and powerful event! You can see the exchange in its entirety above. After an introduction and Saul Green’s testimony, the senators’ comments and Q&A exchange with Craig DeRoche begin at 15:44