The current criminal justice system in the U.S. is the inevitable outcome of centuries of systemic racism and economic inequity. Societal failure to ensure quality employment, housing, education, and healthcare (including behavioral health and mental health) to huge numbers of people—especially poor people and people of color—combined with an calculated, insidious legislative, regulatory, and judicial agenda to criminalize people of color has resulted in more than two million incarcerated people in our country, by far the world’s worst rate of incarceration. At the same time, incarceration itself is a huge accelerant of poverty, ill-health, broken family and community relationships, and the prospects for a healthy, productive life.
The Gamaliel Network recognizes that there are no simple solutions to the problem of mass incarceration. We recognize that sometimes even incremental success creates new problems (e.g., some reductions in jail populations have resulted in a greater number of people on electronic monitoring and mass supervision). Further, the criminal justice system intersects with many other systems (i.e., health, education, employment, housing) requiring a more comprehensive approach to solving the problem of mass incarceration.
As people of faith we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. We are called to live in authentic community with one another; but more importantly, we are called to ensure that every human being has access to that community through restorative practice, including people with conviction histories.
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”