On January 21st, association members gathered nationwide to prophetically demonstrate God’s love for communities decimated by mass incarceration. “Locked in Solidarity” created relational space to stand with the incarcerated, formerly-incarcerated, their families and loved ones. Neighbors exchanged stories of lamentation, loss and hopelessness. Communities united to discuss statistics, raise prayers, and discern ways to collectively counteract this systemic injustice.
“Today there are more African-American adults under correctional control, in prison or jail, on probation or parole, than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War.”
At the 2013 CCDA National Conference last September, Michelle Alexander elucidated The New Jim Crow, illustrating how our nation’s prison population has quintupled over a 30-year period. Alexander highlighted how young, poor, black and brown youth are disproportionately targeted and arrested for nonviolent crimes, transported from decrepit, underfunded schools to brand new, high-tech prisons. Consequently, today there are more African-American adults under correctional control, in prison or jail, on probation or parole, than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War.
Scripture says “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” and upon closer examination it’s become apparent that both individuals’ and corporations’ love of money are inherently wed to our nation’s mass incarceration epidemic. From the birth of privatized — for profit — prisons to people’s ability to buy and trade Wall Street Stock in such prisons, money is indelibly connected to our inflated incarceration rates. In fact, the two largest private prison corporations, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) & the GEO Group, collectively made $3.3 billion in revenue in 2011. Corporations such as these have found ways to financially profit off discriminatory legistlation which masquerades under the guise of “get tough on crime” rhetoric.
“Our current penal system counteracts God’s desire to see people made whole, restored, and reinstated into society.”
As we strive to continue to partner with God’s ongoing work of restoration in the world, may our primary objective be to make God’s name known through our pursuit of the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven. May we take passages like Matthew 25 seriously, which summons us into relationship with the incarerated, and through this, may our eyes be opened. Through these relationships and campaigns like “Locked in Solidarity,” may the Spirit of God move and direct the Church, this association, and its membership towards a righteous response to this institutionalized injustice. Our current penal system counteracts God’s desire to see people made whole, restored, and reinstated into society. “Locked in Solidarity” was a great opportunity to join collectively in prayer across the country, but it was just an initial step. As we look forward, let us not only keep this issue upheld in prayer, let us be intentional about learning further on this critical matter. May this learning inform our advocacy, foster new relationships, and transform our hearts.