"As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance."
President Donald Trump, State of the Union Address
January 30, 2018
During his first State of the Union address, President Trump signaled a willingness to the hear the case for criminal justice reform. No doubt some will question whether the president is making a departure from his conservative base. After all, can restorative criminal justice reform still allow the administration to be "tough-on-crime"?
Yes, they can.
"Restorative criminal justice reform reflects the heart of conservatives—valuing every life and upholding justice for all," say Tim Head, executive director of Faith & Freedom Coalition, and Craig DeRoche, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy at Prison Fellowship®.
In fact, a recent Barna Group survey found that 87 percent of all Americans—and the vast majority of Christians—believe the criminal justice system should offer restoration to all of those affected by crime, including the victim, the community, and yes, even the person responsible.
AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN INCARCERATION
Currently, 2.2 million Americans are behind bars, making our nation's correctional system the most populous in the world. This year, 600,000 prisoners will be released.
If our prisons fail to rehabilitate, then our communities are locked in a cycle of crime and incarceration. The nation's recidivism rate currently sees two out of three former prisoners rearrested and incarcerated.
Prison Fellowship prays that the president and Congress will work together to support restorative justice reforms that will promote healthy and safe communities nationwide.
"As the president and Congress consider next steps, they should recognize the tremendous opportunity they have to pass meaningful, moral, and effective reforms that will keep our communities safe and help those reentering society to live productive lives," say Head and DeRoche. "The American people stand ready to support policies that would improve the culture in prisons and increase the likelihood of successful reentry."
UNLOCKING SECOND CHANCES
Prison Fellowship, Faith & Freedom Coalition, and numerous organizations, churches, and businesses celebrate April as "Second Chance Month" to raise awareness not only for the need of criminal justice reform, but for the social stigma and the 48,000 documented legal restrictions that 65 million of our citizens with criminal records face every day.
The president called for "second chances" for these Americans in his State of the Union address. America is ready for reforms that will protect communities and extend opportunities to all of its citizens for a better life no matter their background, color, religion, or creed.
We have a timely opportunity to encourage the president to take action! If you haven't already, will you use our easy online tool to send this letter to the president, asking him to declare April Second Chance Month?