By / Apr 28

Sexual abuse in the nation’s federal prisons must be rooted out, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department’s second-highest-ranking leader, recently told prison wardens gathered for a nationwide training event. 

“This is urgent, urgent work,” Monaco told the Associated Press (AP) in an interview. “It’s incumbent upon us as leaders to call that out and make those changes and really be vigilant about it.”

According to the news agency, Peters was hired last year after her predecessor resigned amid mounting pressure from Congress following AP investigations that exposed widespread corruption and misconduct within the prison system. 

Sexual abuse in American prisons is a deeply disturbing issue that continues to fester within the correctional system, despite the enactment of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) in 2003. As followers of Christ, we are called to care for the marginalized and oppressed, and this includes our brothers and sisters behind bars. This article examines the severity of the problem, the factors contributing to its persistence, and the ways in which Christians can engage in solutions grounded in our faith and God’s love.

The scope of the problem

Sexual abuse in American prisons is a grievous sin that affects countless incarcerated individuals. According to a 2018 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 13.5 allegations of sexual victimization per 1,000 prison inmates and 11.9 per 1,000 jail inmates. This translates to tens of thousands of people suffering from this dehumanizing trauma each year.

Both fellow inmates and correctional staff perpetrate these heinous acts. Of the 1,673 substantiated incidents of sexual victimization in 2018, about 58% were perpetrated by other inmates and 42% by staff. The power dynamics and lack of accountability within prisons often fosters an environment where abuse frequently goes unpunished. Many victims are reluctant to report incidents due to fear of retaliation or the belief that their complaints will be disregarded.

Factors contributing to the prevalence of sexual abuse

Several factors contribute to the high prevalence of sexual abuse in American prisons, including:

Overcrowding: The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, leading to overcrowded and understaffed prisons. Overcrowding exacerbates tensions and increases the likelihood of violence, including sexual assault. It also hampers the ability of correctional staff to effectively monitor inmate behavior and intervene in potentially abusive situations.

Lack of training and oversight: Many correctional officers receive inadequate training on how to identify and respond to sexual abuse. In some cases, they may be unaware of their responsibilities under PREA or may choose to disregard them. The lack of external oversight can also foster an environment in which abuse is tolerated or even encouraged.

Inmate vulnerability: Certain populations are at a heightened risk for sexual victimization, including young inmates and those with mental illnesses. These inmates may be targeted due to their perceived vulnerability or social isolation, making it even more challenging for them to report abuse and receive support.

Retaliation and fear of reporting: Victims often fear retaliation from their abusers or other inmates, discouraging them from reporting incidents. Additionally, they may be concerned that their complaints will not be taken seriously or that they will face further abuse from staff members.

What Christians can do to help

As followers of Christ, we must not turn a blind eye to this crisis but rather engage in solutions grounded in our faith and God’s love. Some possible ways to help include:

Advocating for alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders: Christians can support and advocate for alternative sentencing options, such as community service, drug rehabilitation programs, and mental health treatment, when appropriate and safe in order to help reduce the prison population and alleviate overcrowding. This approach aligns with the Christian belief in redemption and the power of transformative change.

Encouraging training and oversight: Christians can call for comprehensive training of correctional staff on the identification and prevention of sexual abuse, as well as their obligations under PREA. Additionally, Christians can advocate for independent oversight bodies to monitor compliance with these regulations and hold institutions accountable for addressing incidents of abuse.

Offering spiritual support and advocacy: Churches and faith-based organizations can offer spiritual support to vulnerable inmates, providing them with a sense of community and protection. These organizations can also advocate for policies and procedures that protect vulnerable inmates from sexual victimization.

Promoting a culture of abuse-reporting and victim-supporting: Christians can encourage prisons to create environments in which inmates feel safe reporting incidents of sexual abuse. This can be achieved by implementing confidential reporting mechanisms, ensuring that complaints are taken seriously, and providing appropriate support services for victims. Additionally, churches and faith-based organizations can offer spiritual and emotional support to survivors of sexual abuse, helping them find healing and forgiveness through Jesus.

Addressing staff-perpetrated abuse: We can advocate for thorough background checks on prospective employees, ongoing training on professional boundaries and ethics, and clear procedures for reporting and investigating allegations of staff misconduct. By pushing for a zero-tolerance policy for those found guilty, we can demonstrate our commitment to justice and the dignity of all individuals.

Fostering a culture of rehabilitation and restoration: By promoting a focus on rehabilitation and restoration within the prison system, the Church can help reduce violence, including sexual abuse. Emphasizing the importance of personal growth, and accountability, we can create safer environments that align with the teachings of Christ.

Christ’s love in the darkest places

The issue of sexual abuse in American prisons is a stark reminder of the fallen nature of our world and the need for Christ’s love to be present in even the darkest of places. As followers of Jesus, we are called to stand up against injustice and advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. As it is written in Proverbs 31:8-9, “Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.” By engaging in solutions grounded in our faith, we can work toward a more just and compassionate prison system that respects the human rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of their past mistakes. 

By / Apr 24

In less than two months, 13 students in Nashville, North Carolina, will don caps and gowns and walk across a stage. Before their loved ones and college faculty and staff, they will receive diplomas and embark on a new season as graduates. However, unlike many others graduating this spring, their regalia will be worn over uniforms issued by the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections, the stage erected in a prison gym, and the new season will take place within the confines of the state correctional system.

The 13 graduates will be awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from The College at Southeastern, the undergraduate affiliate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). Soon after they walk across the stage, they will be deployed in teams to prisons across the state as part of the North Carolina Field Minister Program (NCFMP).

A prayer for prison ministry answered

The NCFMP began training incarcerated individuals in August 2016 but existed in the minds and prayers of its partners long before. The need for a sustainable moral rehabilitation program within the North Carolina prison system was brought to the attention of Joe Gibbs, current NASCAR team owner and former NFL coach, through the prison ministry work of his non-profit organization Game Plan for Life (GPL). GPL aims to facilitate “inside-out” change within the system through education and spiritual preparation. Gibbs looked to the success of the prison education program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary by New Orleans Seminary and Southwestern Seminary’s field ministry program in Darrington, Texas. He shared the seminaries’ visions for long-term change and sought to recreate the field minister model in North Carolina by partnering with SEBTS and the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections (NCDAC).

In God’s providence, Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS, had been praying for nearly a decade for the opportunity to begin such a program. Akin and SEBTS were eager to train field ministers, North Carolina was hopeful to see transformation within the prison system, and GPL was ready to actively facilitate the work. Thus, an agreement was formed between these three partners, and classes began at Nash Correctional Institute in Nashville, North Carolina, in the fall of 2016.

Since the onset of the program, two cohorts have graduated from The College at Southeastern as part of the NCFMP. The third is set to cross the stage in June. Each fall, approximately 30 men incarcerated at prisons across the state are accepted into the program and transferred to the Nash Correctional Institute to take courses. To be eligible for the program, individuals must have a minimum of 12 years remaining on their sentence and meet admissions requirements unique to the NCFMP, including essays about their faith background and recommendation forms from prison representatives and volunteers.

The work of field ministers

Professors from The College at Southeastern travel daily to the prison and provide face-to-face instruction. Incarcerated students take the same courses and ultimately receive the same, fully accredited degree offered to traditional students on campus. They receive a rigorous liberal arts education designed to train students in pastoral care.

Soon after graduation, the new alumni are teamed up in groups of four and deployed to one of North Carolina’s 53 prisons. Currently, 11 prisons have a team of field ministers serving within their walls. 

According to Cody Evans, assistant director of Prison Programs at SEBTS, “The hope is to one day have a team of field ministers in every prison in North Carolina so that they can help those who are incarcerated move in the direction of rehabilitation and find new life in Christ.”

During their studies and after deployment, a field minister serves their incarcerated community and assigned facility as a cultural asset by modeling restorative practices within the prison culture. Evans explained that the field ministers are equipped to serve in five areas of ministry: 

  • community service, 
  • counseling, 
  • crisis ministry, 
  • faith-based ministry.,
  • and education. 

The activities they take part in include:

  • leading NCDAC approved self-improvement courses, 
  • facilitating orientation for those being processed into the system, 
  • providing group and individual counseling,
  • and leading Bible studies and discipleship groups. 

Field ministers also function as a bridge between their fellow inmates and both mental health services and prison chaplains. Because of the positive correlation between education and moral rehabilitation, field ministers are even being trained to assist with academic programming within the justice system.

To date, 36 men have been trained and sent out into the prisons of North Carolina to bring hope and promote flourishing within the difficult context of the justice system. Those who participate in the program often do so out of a desire to improve themselves but ultimately become conduits of improvement through Christ for those incarcerated with them. 

The North Carolina Field Minister Program has impacted those who serve as field ministers as well as those who facilitate it. Reflecting on his time serving in this extension of theological education, Evans stated, “It is rewarding to see how education and spiritual preparation transforms people who are often forgotten. Our God is a God of second chances, and He works in forgotten and difficult contexts.” 

And so do the field ministers in prisons of North Carolina: ambassadors of hope, equipped and sent out to point those often forgotten to the God of second chances.

By / May 29

Seeking justice and righteousness, especially for those who are most vulnerable, is fundamental to our faith and an essential part of Christian living. God directly commanded us to seek justice through the prophet Micah, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8 ESV). 

The Biblical Call for Justice

Throughout Scripture, God calls his people to care for the vulnerable and to seek justice on behalf of our neighbors. As God gives the Law to the Israelites, he instructs them to care for the poor (Lev. 19:9-10, 23:22), to welcome immigrants and refugees (Ex. 22:21; Lev. 19:33-34), and to be fair in their financial dealings (Lev. 19:35-36). The prophets carry on these themes of justice and often indict the people of Israel for their failure in this area. Isaiah directly admonishes the people that caring for and fair treatment of the vulnerable is an essential part of faithful worship.

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard” (Isa. 58:6-8 ESV).

In the New Testament, Jesus says of those who are his sheep, “‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me’” (Matt. 25:35-36 CSB). Later, in James, we are instructed as to what true faith entails: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27 ESV).

Areas of Advocacy 

It is this clear mandate from God that both defines and motivates our advocacy for justice. Though injustice and tragedy run rampant in our fallen world, God’s people are to work for the good of our neighbors to push back the darkness and lift up the vulnerable. In our advocacy for fair and impartial judgment and equitable treatment of the unfairly marginalized, we bear witness to a God who is the ultimate just Judge, who deeply cares for the oppressed, and who proclaims a gospel that saves all who believe without partiality.

Immigrants and Refugees

Within our larger advocacy for immigration reforms that uphold ideals of dignity and fairness, the ERLC has strongly advocated for Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents, at no fault of their own. These Dreamers, who often have known no other home than the U.S., face continual uncertainty and potential future deportation unless Congress can deliver a solution allowing them to remain here legally. 

Additionally, in recent years, the U.S. refugee resettlement program has been devastated, along with the network of nonprofits and service providers that support resettlement. The U.S. has largely abdicated its role as a refuge to the vulnerable at a time of historic levels of refugees and internationally displaced people worldwide. The ERLC is deeply engaged in advocating for the rebuilding of this safe and legal program to restore our country’s legacy as a beacon of hope to those fleeing persecution.

Criminal Justice Reform

In 2018, the ERLC advocated heavily for the passage of the historic First Step Act, which worked to reduce recidivism in prisoners, prevented the shackling of most pregnant prisoners, and made other important steps toward a more compassionate criminal justice system that maintains public safety. Since then, the ERLC has continued to advocate for the RE-ENTER Act and the EQUAL (Eliminating a Quantifiably Unjust Application of the Law) Act. 

The RE-ENTER Act would allow eligible individuals with federal convictions to apply for a certificate of rehabilitation from a district court, attesting to a law-abiding future and a commitment to successful reintegration into society. The EQUAL Act would remedy the disparity in federal sentencing for crack and powder cocaine related crimes that unjustly and disproportionately targets people of color. 

Predatory Lending

Payday lending is the term used to describe the practice of lending small amounts of money to people for two-week periods, until their next payday. The average annual interest rates on these short-term loans is 391%, often leaving already impoverished families with crippling debts. These unjust lending practices are exploitative and predicated on consumer loss, trapping families in poverty. In response, the ERLC is advocating for the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act that would extend the same lending protections currently established for Active Duty military members under the Military Lending Act to all consumers, including veterans and their families. 

While Christians can have good-faith disagreements on the contours of our nation’s policies, the Bible is clear that all image-bearers are worthy of dignity and respect. As we face injustice in our world, indifference is not an option afforded to believers. God has called us to fervent prayer, advocacy, and service for all our neighbors. It is ultimately in this work that we will experience a taste of his kingdom on earth.

By / Apr 29

One of the most COVID-effected demographics is rarely mentioned: Prisoners. Already a population incredibly vulnerable to substance abuse, depression and loneliness, the toll for safety was high — and didn’t ultimately protect them very well. One in 5 have tested positive for the virus, and at least 2,700 have died. The New York Times reported triple the rate of COVID-19 infections from that of the general population inside American prisons. 

It’s past time to recognize the humanity of this population of more than 2 million image-bearers. April is “Second Chance Month,” an effort by Prison Fellowship to spotlight criminal justice reform and programming to help prisoners reenter society. Because there is no structure in place for men and women leaving prison, many walk out the door with nothing but the clothes on their back. Some don’t even have an I.D. Often without money or housing, the allure back to substance abuse or criminal lifestyle is high because it is one of few options. 

Things may be even harder now. 

On top of the contagion, in 2020 prisoners abruptly lost access to visitors and in-person programming by nonprofits and ministries aiming to bring light, life, and restoration. As the rest of the world mourned in-person gatherings, prisoners without any access to the outside world may have grieved it the most. 

Ninety-five percent of prisoners eventually reenter society, and the government offers no assistance upon reentry. The results are devastating. Two of 3 former inmates will be back behind bars within three years, furthering a toxic cycle of criminality that ultimately bleeds into the next generation. The children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to be later incarcerated themselves. 

Men of Valor 

But God has called a group of people to minister specifically to this group. In 1976, after serving a short sentence in prison, Chuck Colson started Prison Fellowship, which spawned local prison ministries across the country, like Tennessee’s Men of Valor. These organizations are bringing God’s love, hope, and tangible resources to a population the rest of the world too easily hidden and forgotten. 

COVID-19 made programming harder, but Men of Valor was able to pivot and see God moving in incredible ways that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. “It’s kind of cracked the nut on getting some virtual programming into prisons,” said Program Director Curt Campbell over the phone. “We also got permission to show a faith-based variety show, including testimonies, sermons, and motivational videos.” 

Campbell said most prisons have a closed circuit TV channel that plays inside cells, where their show broadcasts. Thus, men who may never have attended a chapel service or Bible class will hear the gospel when they never would have before. 

Beyond adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, Men of Valor has kept a strong focus on their core initiative, a 1-year reentry mentoring and discipling program for 93 men at a time. After learning about and participating with Men of Valor while in prison, men can apply for the “After Care and Re-Entry” program, which boasts incredible results: Only 10% of those who complete the program go back to prison, compared to 66% of those who don’t. 

Incredibly, COVID-19 affected this program “more positively than negatively,” said Campbell. Because they received funding through the CARES Act (enacted to provide swift economic relief for those affected by COVID-19), Men of Valor was able to expand their programming capabilities to include virtual and socially-distanced learning spaces.They were able to keep the program near capacity, and most men were able to continue working. 

Being accepted into the program can be a huge relief. Once released from prison, accepted participants receive a home, food, clothing, transportation, and help securing valid I.D. and part-time employment. Beyond those basic needs, spiritual needs take priority through mentoring, discipleship, anger management, accountability, personal counseling, and more. 

Because of this program, men like Joshua Higdon say they are “thankful” for their time in prison. After growing up and joining a hate group gang at a young age, Higdon ultimately developed a drug addiction and found himself in prison. “The men that God moved into my life,” he said via video, ”showed me his grace, showed me his mercy and showed me his love.” 

Wearing a t-shirt inscribed with “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” atop a spate of tattoos, Higdon described how a bi-racial friendship inside of prison changed his views on race and led him to the post-incarceration Men of Valor program. 

At a time when many Christians are redefining their view of “pro-life” to include care and compassion for the most vulnerable citizens, it’s appropriate to view post-incarcerated men as such. They have broken the law and made mistakes, but have little chance to rehabilitate and start again without authentic love, financial support, and spiritual guidance to help them get there. They can’t do this on their own, and organizations like Men of Valor and Prison Fellowship are stepping up to ensure they don’t have to. 

By / Sep 21

These days it seems like we are all searching for ways to pursue justice and reconciliation. We know God calls us to “remember those in prison” (Heb. 13:3 NIV) and “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression” (Isa.1:17 ESV). Yet few churches have organized jail or prison ministries, and most evangelicals are uninvolved in pursuing justice reform

Why is that? The answer is complicated. Our justice system is exactly that—a system. It can be hard to figure out how to approach it. We may assume that, because of bureaucracy, prisons will be as difficult for us to enter as they are for prisoners to leave. We may also feel that prisoners are less deserving of our compassion than other people we might serve. 

However, God’s Word challenges us to work through those fears, challenges, and presuppositions to understand his heart for prisoners. So where do we begin? 

A free resource to help

For more than 40 years, Prison Fellowship® has been working to realize a more restorative justice system in this country, one that reflects the God-given value of each person. We’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. And we want to share those lessons with the church. That’s why we created Outrageous Justice®. 

Developed by Prison Fellowship’s subject-matter experts, Outrageous Justice is a free small-group study that explores the criminal justice system through a biblical lens, current events, and personal stories. Outrageous Justice is designed to awaken Christians to the need for justice that restores, then activate them to respond. Participants are equipped and encouraged to care for those affected by crime and incarceration—victims, prisoners, returning citizens, and their families—and to advocate for justice reforms. 

More than 61,000 people have walked through the study. Ninety-nine percent of participants surveyed after using the curriculum reported increased awareness about criminal justice issues. The majority also reported taking action to advance criminal justice reform—like Aaron Merritt and Ashley Erickson. 

Taking action

Aaron and Ashley are members of Mercy Hill Church in Minnesota. Like many churches in the U.S., the church hasn’t been able to meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of Aaron’s pastors approached him about leading a small group to make good use of the time. Aaron, who has been volunteering inside a correctional facility for two years with Prison Fellowship, agreed and decided to use Outrageous Justice

Ashley joined the group. She says, “I haven’t encountered a lot of people that have been incarcerated, and so I wouldn’t know what it was like. I could have an idea, but it would probably be very wrong.” Hearing firsthand from people featured in the curriculum who have committed crimes gave her a new perspective. “Humanizing them was a really big thing for me, rather than how we see [them] portrayed in media.”

Aaron enjoyed the connection to the Scriptures. He adds, “I really liked—and I think a lot of people in our group really appreciated—how action-focused it was. . . . There were actual action steps . . . from just doing email advocacy to . . . actually going to the prisons.”

By the end of the study, Ashley and Aaron were both ready to take one of those steps. “Ashley felt . . . compelled to get more involved and saw a vision for herself,” Aaron recalls. Ashley provides parent coaching to families in her community, something Aaron knew was applicable to prison ministry. “When [Aaron] mentioned that that was a possibility . . . to do in the prison, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. For sure,’” Ashley says. She has now completed volunteer training and eagerly awaits the opportunity to work with parents once prisons in her state reopen to volunteers.

Aaron just completed the training to become a Prison Fellowship Justice Ambassador. Our team trains Justice Ambassadors to advocate for cultural change and legislative reforms that advance proportional punishment, constructive prison culture, and second chances. “[Now] I’m going to start setting up meetings with representatives on some of the criminal justice initiatives that Prison Fellowship is going to be working on,” he says.

Learn what you can do

Our goal is to help you, no matter where you’re starting from, determine your response to the biblical mandate to visit those in prison and pursue justice. 

Outrageous Justice will help you better understand the criminal justice system in America and why it matters to every one of us. It will equip you to advocate for justice that restores. Most importantly, it will invite you to speak up on behalf of those who can’t, bringing redemption and hope to the criminal justice system—and to our country.

Download your free copy of Outrageous Justice today and encourage others to do the same.

By / Feb 13

Today, nearly 2.2 million Americans are in prison or jail, and approximately 70 million Americans have a criminal record. Prison Fellowship® believes the Church has a unique capacity and calling to respond to the crisis of crime and incarceration. That's why we hosted the Justice Declaration Symposium in Washington, D.C., an event that brought together 80 pastors and church leaders—including ERLC President Russell Moore—to sharpen one another in the calling to restore those affected by the criminal justice system.

Moore served as the event’s keynote speaker. In his opening remarks, he said, “One of the biggest challenges that many of us in ministry have is dealing with multiple constituencies at one time.” Some will ask why bother ministering to those who have done bad things. Others will say justice reform distracts the Church from its mission. Some will think doing advocacy work makes you too political, and others will not think you are political enough. 

To better understand how different American Christians approach criminal justice reform, we commissioned a nationwide poll, conducted by the Barna Group. Here’s what we learned. 

What American Christians think about justice reform

The study revealed some hopeful trends. For example, practicing Christians are significantly more likely than other Americans to agree strongly that restoration should be the goal of the justice system. 

Similarly, because of their beliefs about the inherent dignity of each person, practicing Christians (especially evangelicals) strongly agree that prison conditions should be safe and humane and that caring for prisoners is important. The belief in second chances also ranked high among evangelicals. 

Not all the findings were worth celebrating, though. For instance, only one in five Christians said their church was involved in raising awareness about criminal justice. In fact, criminal justice was ranked as the social issue of least importance to respondents’ churches among several options. 

Also worrisome is Christians’ perception of the crime rate. Sixty-nine percent of practicing Christians and 81% of evangelicals think the incarceration rate in America is rising. But the crime rate has in fact been decreasing steadily since 1960. Meanwhile, the country’s incarceration rate skyrocketed, until a modest decline began a decade ago, thanks to criminal justice reform efforts. Researchers believe that no more than 25% of the decline in crime can be attributed to incarceration. Thus, we have not only misunderstood the problem at hand, but overly relied on incarceration as the solution, despite its devastating consequences on families and communities. To appropriately approach criminal justice issues, Christians must first have an accurate grasp of the situation—and what God’s Word says about it. 

The call to justice reform

What Christians think on any issue should be shaped first and foremost by the Bible. 

Moore, in his address to the pastors and church leaders at the Justice Declaration Symposium, said, “When we are shaped and formed by the kingdom of God, that means that we're going to have a different vision—a different view of what matters. And a different vision and a different view of who matters.”

To appropriately approach criminal justice issues, Christians must first have an accurate grasp of the situation—and what God’s Word says about it.

That “who” includes all those affected by crime and incarceration, from the victim to the community to the incarcerated. In Matthew 25, Jesus specifically calls out prisoners as people who count among “the least of these.” Even with knowledge of this calling, the Church doesn’t always know the answers to every difficult situation, but explained Moore, that’s OK. He added, “What we do know, though, is that we have an accountability before God. Do we act in those capacities in a Christ-like way, or in a non-Christ-like way? Do we try to ignore our responsibilities, or do we seek to act justly?”

Ultimately, whether we get involved with justice reform is shaped by our view of personhood. To this end, Moore reminded the audience that “our incarcerated brothers and sisters are joint-heirs with Christ."

Practical tools to help you get involved

At Prison Fellowship, we are working to equip Christians with the tools and information they need to get involved in justice reform. Here are some ways you and your church can take action:

  • Get free copies of our free Outrageous Justice® small group curriculum: The criminal justice system is complex. It can be hard to know where to begin with justice reform. That’s why we created Outrageous Justice, a small group study designed to help awaken Christians to the need for justice reform and put tools in their hands for getting started.
  • Sign the Justice Declaration: Signed by more than 10,000 Christians and prominent faith leaders, the Justice Declaration is a statement proclaiming the unique responsibility and capacity of the Church to address crime and incarceration. We at Prison Fellowship encourage all followers of Christ to add their names.
  • Host a Second Chance Sunday: Your church can celebrate Second Chance® Month by hosting a Second Chance® Sunday, with pastors or others sharing a message about justice and redemption and offering prayer for those impacted by crime and incarceration. 

You can access all these resources and more for free here. We hope these tools help you and your church respond to God’s call to seek justice.