BY ISN STAFF | May 13, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Faith-based organizations from across the country joined together to call on the U.S. Senate to pass significant legislation that would address mass incarceration in the United States. In a letter to Senate leadership over sixty organizations called for action on the bi-partisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act (S. 2123), which was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in October 2015. Signatories of the letter include the Ignatian Solidarity Network and Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.
The United States currently incarcerates more of its citizens per capita than any other country in the world. Nearly 2.2 million people are held in Federal or State prisons and county jails on a daily basis. Additionally, on any given day over 70,000 juveniles are held in custody. The United States is also the only country in the world to sentence youth to die in prison through life without parole sentences. [Bureau of Justice Statistics]
“From our vantage point, we see this nation’s reliance on mass incarceration to solve drug addiction, poverty, mental illness and joblessness as an affront to justice and human dignity,” stated the letter. “As people of faith, we are called to comfort and serve those harmed by crime and support accountability, rehabilitation and restoration for those who offend. To that end, we are joined in our commitment to advancing the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act.”
“Our faith also teaches that all people are redeemable and possess inherent human dignity,” said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Kerr continued, “Congress has an opportunity to lead our country toward a justice system that lifts up this dignity for all those involved in crime – those harmed and those who offend.”
This November the Ignatian Solidarity Network will welcome Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries to its annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, a national Catholic social justice conference drawing over 1,700 people. Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Each year over 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors in an effort to make a positive change. Fr. Boyle is an internationally recognized speaker and serves on numerous governmental committees and commissions related to efforts for restorative criminal justice.