AUSTIN–The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission has partnered with Prison Fellowship and more than 150 other organizations to recognize April as Second Chance Month, in remembrance of the 65 million people with a criminal record with limited access to education, jobs and other opportunities.
“Second Chance Month is meant to highlight the plight of millions of Americans and their families who have are formerly incarcerated. They have paid their debt to society, but still find themselves locked out of affordable housing, decent job opportunities, and certain occupations despite the fact that studies have show steady housing and employment dramatically reduce recidivism,” said Kathryn Freeman, CLC director of Public Policy.
In conjunction with the initiative, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation affirming April as Second Chance Month in the state of Texas. The proclamation noted, “Second Chance Month promotes increased awareness about collateral consequences, the need for closure for those who have paid their debt to society and opportunities for individuals, employers, congregations and communities to extend second chances.”
“We are thankful for Prison Fellowship's leadership and to Governor Abbott for helping to shine a spotlight on this issue through proclamation declaring April Second Chances Month. We hope to continue to advocate for legislative reforms, while encouraging churches to look for ways to ‘remember the prisoner,’” Freeman continued.
Support for restorative justice ministries and public policy
Through funding from the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and the Mary Hill Davis Offering in 2018, Texas Baptists churches will provide more than $28,000 to restorative justice ministries in Texas, including $9,800 specifically for re-entry ministries.
The CLC encourages churches to support the formerly incarcerated through the Hunger Offering, but also through supporting public policy initiatives that balance community safety and successful reintegration in our communities. Current CLC public policy priorities regarding criminal justice reform include:
Support efforts to expand diversion programs and specialty courts.
Support efforts to curb fees and limit court debt to a percentage of a person’s income.
Support efforts to reduce probation revocations for minor infractions and incentivize best practices that keep those on probation at work and on the road to rehabilitation.
Support efforts to assist in the transition of ex-offenders back into society through the development and expansion of re-entry programs, including access to basic safety-net services for those who have completed their sentence.
Support efforts to improve community police relations including for funding for body cameras, training on implicit bias, and better data collection.
To learn more about how you and your church can advocate for criminal justice reform, contact Kathryn Freeman, public policy director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit texasbaptists.org/clc.