Day of Prayer for Criminal Justice Reform—February 7

This information comes from the General Board of Church & Society of the United Methodist Church (http://www.umc-gbcs.org):

 

Facts to consider and share with your congregation:

 

  • With 5% of the world’s population, the United States hold’s 25% of the world’s incarcerated
  • In the U.S., 1 in every 100 people is incarcerated and 2/3 of those in prison are black or Latino
  • Black men serving sentences account for 4,618 per 100,000; Hispanic males were 1,747, and Anglo males were 773. This means that Black males were 6 times more likely, and Hispanic males twice as likely as Anglos to be held in custody
  • There are more than 8,000 reported incidents of sexual assault in prisons each year. The number of unreported incidents cannot be estimated
  • In 2007, 82.7% of crack cocaine defendants were African American despite the fact that only 18% of crack cocaine users in the U.S. are African Americans
  • Every year across the U.S., 200,000 youth are tried, sentenced or incarcerated as adults and on any given day, nearly 7,500 youth are locked up in adult jails, and 2,600 are locked up in adult prison

These are just some of the reasons we know the current system is broken.

 

Therefore, we must pray for reform of the criminal justice system, for empowerment of faith communities to advocate for reforms, and for moral and accountable leadership by our elected leaders to bring about just and humane reform. Please email me or Bill Mefford, bmefford@umc-gbcs.org, and let us know your church is participating and the city and state where you are located and share this with everyone else you know who might be interested. (NOTE: This is almost certainly aimed at United Methodist congregations only—that doesn’t mean others can’t or shouldn’t share this information!)

 

All you need to do is have your church spend part or all of the prayer time during their worship service lifting up these specific prayer needs:

 

  • A fair criminal justice system based on restorative principles that do not sentence people to unjustly long sentences or target certain racial groups, so that the families of the incarcerated can be strengthened and local communities safely restored. 
  • Empowerment of churches to serve those directly affected by the criminal justice system, by caring for victims of crime, providing necessary programs for ex-offenders seeking to reenter society, supporting families affected by crime, and advocating for reform of the criminal justice system. 
  • The moral leadership and accountability of elected leaders to support legislation that reflects the values of restorative justice and will care for victims of crime, eliminate unjust and unsafe treatment in the criminal justice system, and provide for in-prison, reentry and prevention programs to avert future crimes.
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