Criminal Justice Reform

In Matthew Chapter 25 Verses 36-40, Jesus says, “I was in prison and you came to visit me … I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

These words help define how conservatives, and those from the faith community, view the nation’s incarcerated. Judeo-Christian values balance personal responsibility with forgiveness and mercy. And the words of Christ, taken as a mandate for action, have driven the faith community and the Faith & Freedom Coalition to engage in justice reform.

We support legislation such as SB 642, “Florida First Step Act,” working to reduce criminal sentences by allowing judges to depart from mandatory minimums for drug trafficking charges. The bill is modeled on federal legislation signed by President Donald Trump last year.

America incarcerates a far higher percentage of our citizens than similar nations. In the United States, a staggering 693 out every 100,000 people are incarcerated. That statistic should worry anyone who cares about the size, scope, and cost of government.

America’s high incarceration rate is the symptom of many deeper problems in our society, including the exclusion of the faith community from public venues such as schools, social welfare, and sports. We are learning, however, that mass incarceration makes our communities less safe by tearing families apart.

Moreover, U.S. jails and prisons resemble a revolving door with almost 7 in 10 inmates rearrested within three years of being released from prison. Moreover, 4 in 10 of these offenders are sentenced to return to prison, which makes the public less safe.

Fortunately, things are beginning to change.

Since 2007, more than 30 states have passed significant reforms designed to prioritize prison beds for serious offenders, reduce incarceration, reduce recidivism rates, and contain costs. Red states like Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and others have seen real results. Texas, for example, saved taxpayers over $2 billion while dropping its crime rate to its lowest level since 1968.

Conservatives are proving you can be both “smart on crime” and “tough on crime” with solutions that increase public safety, save taxpayer dollars, and restore the lives of both offenders and victims. Faith & Freedom Coalition will continue to support prioritizing public safety resources; increasing public safety through effective rehabilitation programs; and identifying innovative reintegration strategies for newly freed prisoners.