Prison Fellowship® advocates for federal and state criminal justice reforms that help transform those responsible for crime, validate victims, and encourage churches and communities to play a role in creating a safe, redemptive, and just society. Check out Prison Fellowship's advocacy highlights from last month!
SEN. CORNYN AWARDED PRISON FELLOWSHIP'S ADVOCATE OF HOPE AWARD
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) participated as a panelist at Prison Fellowship's Second Chances Matter event in Dallas last week. Other panelists included Doug Deason, a successful business leader who has worked with Prison Fellowship on the Second Chances Bill; Craig DeRoche, Prison Fellowship's senior vice president of advocacy & public policy; and moderator Shelly Slater, an award-winning journalist and WFAA anchor. The senator was presented with Prison Fellowship's Advocate of Hope Award as a result of his contributions to criminal justice reform.
The Charles Colson Advocate of Hope award is bestowed annually on a person with a record of faithful, unswerving, and winsome advocacy for restorative criminal justice reform—a person whose leadership blazes a trail toward a future of proportional punishment, constructive prison culture, second chances, and safer communities.
SENATOR CORNYN, ADVOCATE OF HOPE
Senator Cornyn is a champion for criminal justice reform in Congress. His unique credibility as the former attorney general of Texas, former associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, and former state district judge, has made him an instrumental sponsor of criminal justice legislation.
Recently, the senator has focused on legislation that would increase access to quality programming, including faith-based programs, in federal prisons so that people can return home to our communities as productive members of society.
In addition, Senator Cornyn is also a member of Prison Fellowship's Faith & Justice Fellowship. Launched in 2016, the Faith & Justice Fellowship is a group of state and federal policymakers motivated by their faith to advance reforms that will restore victims, communities, and people responsible for crime.
After the panel, Senator Cornyn visited prisoners at the Dallas County Jail (WFAA.com).
RENEW ACT OF 2017
Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., introduced the Renew Act of 2017 earlier in May. This bill will assure young returning citizens that their past will not always limit their future success by raising the eligibility for expungement from 21 years old to 25 for those convicted of low-level, first time, simple drug possession charges.
Read our previous blog post on why Prison Fellowship believes the Renew Act of 2017 advances our biblical conviction in the God-given dignity and potential of each person.
PRISON FELLOWSHIP TO JEFF SESSIONS: 'CURRENT POLICIES ARE ABJECT OBJECTIVE FAILURE'
On May 10, United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to federal prosecutors that will likely cause an increase in disproportional sentencing. In an op-ed for Christianity Today, Craig DeRoche responded with the following:
The current policies have led to more drug use, more drug dealing, more drug importation, more addiction, more death, more broken families, and more communities riddled with the drug trade, poverty, and other ill-effects. They are abject objective failure, and Jeff Sessions is saying, 'Let's do more of that.' "
You can hear more of Prison Fellowship's stance on this issue in DeRoche's interview.
Prison Fellowship continues to pursue criminal justice reforms that restore both prisoner and victim rather than perpetuate the criminal cycle.
TEXAS—SMART ON CRIME
As members of the Texas Smart on Crime Coalition's executive committee, we are working with members to set the coalition's legislative agenda for the 2017 session.
Through rigorous work, our team has helped pass several important bills that now await the governor's signature. These bills include legislation that addresses the cost of incarceration, recidivism, and accountability for those on probation and parole.
JUSTICE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE
In Louisiana and Oklahoma, Prison Fellowship has continued to work with local and national partners to support the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). JRI is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and reduce recidivism.
Read more about our work in Louisiana in this article that appeared in World Magazine on May 27.
Craig DeRoche also penned an op-ed for The Oklahoman about the importance of sentencing reform and prison ministry.