At my desk at Prison Fellowship in northern Virginia, there’s an index card tacked to the wall of my cubicle. On it I’ve written a verse from the Scriptures:
Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9, New American Standard Bible
It reminds me of why I’m here, and why I care about the incarcerated people of America.
Prison Fellowship® is the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform. The organization was founded in 1976 by Charles Colson, a former aide to President Nixon who served a seven-month sentence for a Watergate-related crime.
The mission of Prison Fellowship is to bring restoration to those affected by crime and incarceration in America. We facilitate prisoners’ transformation. We also support returning citizens and prisoners’ families. Furthermore, we advocate for a criminal justice system that reflects each person’s God-given dignity and potential.
Prison Fellowship believes that through an awakening to new hope and life purpose those who once broke the law are transformed. They are mobilized to serve their community – inside prison and out – replacing the cycle of crime with a cycle of renewal.
STORIES OF RESTORATION
At Prison Fellowship, my job is to share the stories of the people we serve. I am always awed by how powerful these stories are. I hear stories of transformation, of restoration – stories of hope birthed from lives that were once full of despair.
Stories from men who became better fathers and husbands. Women who found purpose in a life behind bars. Children who said “enough is enough” and broke the cycle of incarceration in their families.
I sit in meetings and hear stories of bipartisan efforts to serve and support our nation’s incarcerated population. I see people from all backgrounds come together for a greater purpose.
And I get to be a part of sharing these stories with the world.
My Christian upbringing taught me that everyone deserves a second chance. However, whenever I thought about the criminal justice system, I couldn’t get past the prison walls. I didn’t see people; I saw criminals. Fear and justice filtered my understanding.
Today, I can look past the prison walls to a world on the inside. It’s a world that shouldn’t be forgotten, populated with a people who need a voice.