Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship and Mark Earley, it’s current president outline, in a four part Break Point commentary series, a crisis that we are seeing in our criminal justice system and what the Church can do about it.
Colson paints a picture of the crisis that we now face:
Most systems are operating above safe capacity, despite the prison-building boom of the past two decades. Of the 2.3 million in prison, an estimated 700,000 will be released from prison this year unprepared for life on the outside. Two-thirds of them will be rearrested within the next three years.
In part one, “Admissions of Failure” Colson says that it is time to learn about a Christian response to our nation’s prison crisis. Part two, “One in Ninety-Nine” with one in 99 American adults being in prison and with prison overcrowding, Earley asks, “What should we do with non-violent offenders?”
In part three, “Melting Hearts” Colson says that “crime cannot be boiled down to statistics. At the receiving end of a crime is a flesh-and-blood victim. Christians should be advocates for restorative justice. Justice doesn’t stop with the police, court system and prisons, it is also a matter of the heart, as justice also means repairing the harm caused by a crime. Ultimately what is needed to see change happen in the criminal justice system is transformation. In part four, “The Heart of the Matter” Mark Earley discusses the work that government can not do.
Followers of Christ can not afford not to address this problem and respond to it in a meaningful way. We should be the ones who bring hope to those who are imprisoned and their families.