From the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (http://www.umc-gbcs.org):
We should be shocked by these statistics:
With 5% of the world’s population, the United States holds 25% of the world’s incarcerated.
In the United States, 1 in every 100 people is incarcerated and 2/3 of those in prison are African American or Latino/a. African-American males are six times more likely, and Latino males twice as likely as Anglo males to be in custody.
Most incarcerated women, including mothers, were victims of violence first.
There are more than 8,000 reported incidents of sexual assault in prisons each year. The number of unreported incidents cannot be estimated.
As followers of Jesus who came to “proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4:18), and as inheritors of the tradition started by John Wesley who considered prison ministries to be of utmost importance, it is imperative that we act to reform the U.S. criminal justice system. Here’s how:
The National Day of Prayer for Criminal Justice Reform (http://www.umc-gbcs.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.6504807/k.D96F/National_Day_of_Prayer_for_Criminal_Justice_Reform/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=frLJK2PKLqF&b=6504807&en=mrJLKROEIcKGI0NEI6KGI2PFLhIVL2OFKbKLKVOGLrK5F)Sunday, February 20: Have your church join with communities of faith from all over to take part or all of your prayer time in Sunday’s service to lift up the prayer items that follow. We want to know your church is participating (http://www.umc-gbcs.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.6504807/k.D96F/National_Day_of_Prayer_for_Criminal_Justice_Reform/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=frLJK2PKLqF&b=6504807&en=mrJLKROEIcKGI0NEI6KGI2PFLhIVL2OFKbKLKVOGLrK5F) so be sure and sign up!! And be sure to send Laura Markle Downton (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) a picture of your church after your service because we will be compiling photos of congregations that participate.
Have your congregation endorse the Criminal Justice Reform Faith Letter (http://www.umc-gbcs.org/site/c.frLJK2PKLqF/b.4923263/k.3BE5/Criminal_Justice_Reform_Letter/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=frLJK2PKLqF&b=4923263&en=kfJHJLPwHaKCJUMwH4LCJVOBIkKQKPNrH9LKIUOALpI1E). The letter, which is being signed by local and national faith organizations — and only organizations, no individuals please — urges President Obama and Congress to take action several ways to reform the criminal justice system. Some of these include: restoration and healing for victims of crime and for affected communities, compassion for those reentering society after being incarcerated, equality for racial minorities unfairly targeted, and respect for the rights of those imprisoned.
Together we can create a criminal justice system that brings healing to victims of crime and to affected communities, and restoration to offenders and their families.