In the U.S.: Too many people are locked up -- more than ever, crowding prisons and crippling communities. Racism in laws and policing unjustly targets people of color. The justice system is too slow, punishes the poor, abuses children, dehumanizes people. Prisoners suffer unjust conditions -- sometimes akin to torture. It costs too much money for taxpayers, and makes too much money for corporations. Punishment doesn’t end upon release -- felons can’t find jobs, get housing, vote.
In Canada: While fewer and fewer white people are behind bars, more and more minorities are locked up. Almost 25% of prisoners are Aboriginal. Incarceration of women has increased by 80% in the last 10 years. Crime has decreased, yet Canada has never incarcerated more people than it does today.
In our churches: We mirror “the world’s” values: we are quick to punish and slow to pursue restoration. We don’t know how to have conflict or restore the harm we do to one another. We don’t know how to support victims of crime so they can be fully restored. We fail to support the families of those incarcerated. We place stigma and judgment on returning citizens.
Why we care
In Jesus, we see what love looks like: God restores the world.
In the cross, God’s justice does is not retributive; it is instead peacemaking, reconciling, restoring and healing.
Christ’s followers are called to subvert evil through love, pursue peace in conflict, work for the restoration of brokenness.
“He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins...For through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” -Romans 1:16-17; 3:20
What restoration looks like
We will view people in prison as human beings, created in the image of God.
We will listen to and support victims of crime.
We will welcome and support families of the incarcerated.
We will greet returning citizens and work with them to restore dignity.
We will work to end the caste system of mass incarceration.
We will practice restoration in our relationships, at church and at home.