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One of the most talked about commercials in the days following the Super Bowl this year was an unexpected message, for some, from President Donald Trump. In the ad, an emotional Alice Johnson is surrounded by family members and friends as she emerges from federal prison after 21 years. “I am free to hug my family! I’m free to start over! This is the greatest day of my life. My heart is bursting with gratitude and I want to thank President Donald John Trump.” But Alice Johnson’s story is not unique. This week President Trump pardoned 11 more people who had served prison sentences for high-profile crimes.
These are admirable acts of clemency and commutation that set an example for criminal justice reform in this country. As people of faith, we believe that all human life matters at all stages, from the moment of conception to natural death. And as believers in the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we believe that no life – no matter how marred by sin – is beyond redemption and transformation.
That’s why we’re also excited to celebrate recent news that President Trump has appointed Pastor Tony Lowden as executive director of the Federal Interagency Council on Crime Prevention and Improving Reentry. Lowden is the first black pastor at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia – best known as the church where former President Jimmy Carter attends and teaches Sunday School.
Founded in 2018, the council brings together experts from different government agencies to strategize on how to heal our nation’s criminal justice system and empower the formerly incarcerated to start their lives afresh. Despite recent reforms, our nation’s criminal justice system remains one of the most punitive in the world. The United States incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world, with a total of 2.3 million people locked up in a federal or state prison, local jail or some other kind of facility.
Our justice system also fails to equip those reentering society to return to a stable life upon their release; a 2018 report from the Justice Department revealed that 83% of state prisoners who were released in 2005 were re-arrested at some point in the following nine years. It’s a system that’s not only ineffective, but wasteful: A 2017 study found that it cost taxpayers $182 billion each year.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Timothy Head
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