Nearly 100 religious leaders from across the spectrum of evangelicalism have signed what’s being called the Justice Declaration. It’s a new call for fairer, less severe punishment and more mercy within America’s criminal justice system. It was given to elected leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, in hopes of drumming up support for criminal justice reform.
The declaration was introduced by James Ackerman, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, who said that: “Our country’s overreliance on incarceration fails to make us safer or to restore people and communities who have been harmed.”
National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson was on hand at the press conference to urge churches to do more than just sign a declaration, but take actual, practical steps to have an impact on racial injustice in their communities. “What if all of our churches were to adopt one incarcerated person?” he asked, according to Religion News Service. “What if all of our churches would service one family where a family member is incarcerated? What if all of our churches would care for one victim?”
The declaration says that “the Church has both the unique ability and unparalleled capacity to confront the staggering crisis of crime and incarceration in America,” the declaration reads, “and to respond with restorative solutions for communities, victims and individuals responsible for crime.”
The declaration comes in sharp contrast to the reported plans of Attorney General Jeff Sessions who says he wants to double down on tougher policing, and encouraged lawyers nationwide to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” in their court cases.