Prison Fellowship's Leadership Urges New Administration to Advance Policies Helping Men and Women Impacted by Crime and Incarceration Become Productive Returning Citizens
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Prison Fellowship®, the nation's largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, issued the following statement after former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris were declared the winners of the 2020 Presidential election.
On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, former Vice President and Senator Joe Biden Jr. was elected President of the United States. President-elect Biden's criminal justice proposals include several Prison Fellowship priorities, such as Pell Grant restoration for incarcerated students, addressing the penalty disparity for crack and powder cocaine, and further investments in effective correctional and reentry programming.
"We look forward to working with the new Biden administration and Congress to advance policies that honor the God-given dignity of every man and woman impacted by crime and incarceration," said James Ackerman, President and CEO for Prison Fellowship. "In 2018, President Trump signed into law the First Step Act, featuring federal drug sentencing reforms and expanded in-prison programming. The historic reform would not have been possible without bipartisan sponsors and support, including Senator Kamala Harris’ vote. In this season of intense polarization, we can think of no better time to take up the next steps to advance criminal justice as a place of common ground and shared purpose."
"Not only is criminal justice a bipartisan issue, it is a priority for the faith community," said Heather Rice-Minus, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Church Mobilization for Prison Fellowship. "We urge the new administration and Congress to pass policies that reflect a restorative approach to justice, including helping currently and formerly incarcerated Americans impacted by COVID, expanding higher education behind bars, strengthening oversight of the federal prison system, and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve."
- During his time on the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Biden played a significant role in shaping federal justice policy through the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and the Second Chance Act of 2007. The Obama-Biden administration justice reform agenda included the Smart on Crime Initiative, Federal Interagency Taskforce Reentry Council, and Taskforce on 21st Century Policing.
- The Biden campaign has highlighted multiple priorities in justice policy for their administration. In addition to those highlighted above, these include a reinvigoration of community policing, removal of collateral consequences for housing and safety net programs for individuals with a criminal record, and new federal funding to promote state and local reforms.
- Working with law enforcement, civil rights, faith-based, and conservative partners, Prison Fellowship advanced progress on justice reform in the 116th The organization contributed to deepening bipartisan support for Pell Grant restoration for incarcerated students. In December 2019, Congress passed the Fair Chance Act, which allowed individuals with a criminal record to better access employment opportunities with the federal government and federal primary contractors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prison Fellowship’s advocacy helped ensure expanded use of home confinement for federal prisoners under the CARES Act as well as the limiting of Paycheck Protection Program restrictions on entrepreneurs with a criminal record.
- In 2017, building off the Obama administration's "National Reentry Week" in April, Prison Fellowship founded the movement to celebrate April as Second Chance Month. The Biden administration will have the opportunity to continue the tradition of issuing an annual White House proclamation recognizing April as Second Chance Month, helping expand awareness and opportunities for people with a criminal record seeking a fresh start.