We have been encouraged by the growing, bipartisan attention to the injustice of our criminal justice system, particularly as it relates to the perpetuation and institutionalization of racial inequalities. These issues have been raised to greater public consciousness through the work of people like Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Alexander, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the voices of many who have peacefully protested around the nation. We are grateful for their contributions.
What is also needed now is for our politicians to act. Our criminal justice system is obviously and unavoidably political, and so political solutions must be a part of our approach. Therefore, we are proud to affirm our support for the criminal justice platform put forward by our friends at The AND Campaign. That statement reads:
a) Require Independent Investigations into Police-Involved Deaths – Every state should have automatic mechanisms to provide an outside investigation of such incidents.
b) End For-Profit Policing - The connection between minor citation, quotas and funding police departments is a dangerous one. Furthermore, for-profit policing not only increases the chance of potential conflict between officers and the community, it also puts an unnecessary financial burden on communities that are already in tough socioeconomic positions.
c) Train Officers to be Members of the Community - Police officers shouldn’t be seen as outsiders in the communities they patrol. Police officer training should include methods and tactics to develop authentic relationships between officers and the community.
d) Participate in Criminal Justice Elections - Recruit candidates and vote in local and state races for prosecutors and judges. These candidates should be well-qualified and have a proven record of social awareness and community engagement. It’s important believers participate on the front end of the process.
AND Campaign will also be partnering with other national organizations to urge our federal lawmakers to strengthen and pass the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that is now in the U.S. House of Representatives Judicial Committee. These reforms would apply to all fifty states and could have a major impact nationally.
If pursued, this platform would directly impact the goals in our vision statement to “end unjust discrimination” and to support strong families, as well as other crucial factors that lead to human flourishing.
We call on Christians and all citizens to contact their elected officials in support of these principles and to offer their affirmation and support when politicians take leadership on criminal justice reform.