Started in June 2009, The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. is a resource and research center working towards community revitalization through sentencing and prison reform in the United States criminal justice system. The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. sees the focus on sentencing/prison reform, education, rehabilitation, and economic mobility as integral to the quest to end mass incarceration and the School-to-Prison pipeline. This concept is reflected in our three prong initiatives toward ending mass incarceration working in collaboration with faith-based and non-faith-based organizations, educational institutions and individuals:
- Educational campaigns: public forums, research presentations, training and empowerment sessions for “Returning Citizens” (formerly incarcerated individuals);
- Advocacy: influencing public policy, sentencing laws towards prison reform, and
- Direct intervention in the lives of “Returning Citizens.” We work with religious and non-religious individuals and organizations to further the goal of criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration in the United States criminal justice system.
The Center for Church and Prison’s goal is strategic solution development and intervention in the high rate of incarceration and recidivism in the United States prison system embodied in what we refer to as the four “Rs”:
- RESPECT: for human dignity in the United States criminal justice systems.
- REFORM: In the sentencing laws and sentencing process towards prison reform and reduction in mass incarceration and the high rate of recidivism.
- REHABILITATION: Emphasis on preventive programs development and treatment: education and skills development for employment possibilities; In-prison emphasis on job readiness programs for adequate reintegration and economic mobility.
- RESTORATION: Post-Prison emphasis on employment, emotional wellness, and job creation. Emphasis on family, community and faith-based organizations support in the restorative process for Returning Citizens towards strategic reduction in mass incarceration, emotional stability for effective reintegration and readjustment to society after prison life.
“There are times when guidance as to techniques and strategy is urgent, when counsel, support, and collective direct action are mandatory. But there can never be a substitute for taking personal responsibility for social change. The word ‘personal’ applies both to the individual and the organization-in this instance, the Church.” (Howard Thurman, With Head and Heart, p. 161)