A message from our Social Justice Action Team Criminal Justice Ministry
By Nancy Nonini
Have you ever had a teenage son? A 16-year old boy was arrested for stealing a backpack, a petty crime. Because he did not have enough money to cover $3000 bail, he was in jail for 3 years awaiting trial. He committed suicide even though the charge was eventually dismissed! What happens when an innocent person spends 3 years in jail — to their sense of self, to their family, to their income potential, to the unnecessary cost to taxpayers?
2021 Church Of the Palm’s Criminal Justice Ministry had an active year. We started a Pen Pal Program where women from COTP were matched with women in Perryville Prison. We collected Starter Kits with basic necessities for women being released from Perryville. We had Zoom presentations on Mass Incarceration, stories from previously incarcerated people, and the problems generated by Private Prisons on the human community and government budgets. We ended the year with an amazing, interactive Re-Entry Simulation where attendees expressed how surprised they were by the process a newly-released person must go through very quickly in order to stay out of prison. The personal stories of Arouet Foundation clients brought a face to statistics and facts.
2022 Our Vision: We plan to continue to support Arouet Foundation’s service to recently released Perryville women and provide info on our justice system, maybe even with opportunities to visit Criminal Justice courts, re-entry facilities, and programs. BUT our enhanced direction will be to provide ways that you, the congregation, can help change our Criminal Justice System to make it more humane while promoting community safety. We hope to give you simple steps to help our legislators find out what their constituents are thinking, what Pastor Paul’s “Personal Shopper” would recommend!
I was in prison and you visited me…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.—Matthew 25:36, 40
So watch for opportunities to learn more about how to directly help “the least of these” and promote change so that fewer lives are lost or wasted in an unjust system. Thank you to all who supported this ministry in 2021. If you are interested in joining our Criminal Justice Ministry in 2022 or just have questions, please contact Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org