SBC’s ERLC Supports Prison Reform Bill

PRISON

The Southern Baptist Convention’s lead ethicist has joined a coalition that includes leaders of conservative and criminal justice organizations in urging passage of federal legislation designed to reduce the prison population and heighten public safety.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), signed onto a June 2 letter with 18 others to urge a U.S. Senate committee to act on the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers in Our National System (CORRECTIONS) Act. The letter endorsers called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to forward the bill, S. 467, to the full chamber.

In the letter, the signers said they believe the bill “presents an opportunity to empower federal corrections officials and prisoners to redefine time spent in prison from a period of incapacitation to a crossroads of transformation.” It will help prepare prisoners “to rejoin society as law-abiding and contributing members of society,” they said.

The legislation calls for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expand programs to reduce recidivism, which is the relapse into criminal activity by ex-prisoners that results in rearrest, reconviction or reimprisonment typically within three years after their release. The measure directs the DOJ to partner with faith-based and other non-profit organizations in the conduct of such programs as drug rehabilitation, skills training and faith-based classes, according to the letter.

The CORRECTIONS Act “is a solid piece of legislation,” the ERLC’s Barrett Duke told Baptist Press in written comments.

“Regrettably, too often prison becomes a place of hardening rather than rehabilitation,” said Duke, the ERLC’s vice president for public policy and research. “The men and women in our corrections systems are also created in God’s image, with great potential. We should not treat them as though they are disposable because they made some bad choices.

“Our country should be committed to help as many of them as possible get their lives on a path toward flourishing. Everyone benefits when someone’s life is turned around. May many thousands leave prison for the last time because of the assistance provided by this bill.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode

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