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For Immediate Release: Religious Leaders Call for Criminal Justice Reform

By: 
Executive Director

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 3, 2017

MEDIA CONTACTS:            

Wes Helm, Faith in Texas, 254-291-3178, whelm@faithintx.org

Bee Moorhead, Texas Impact, 512-636-3135, bee@texasimpact.org

AUSTIN—On Monday April 3rd, religious leaders from across the state traveled to the Capitol to share their stories and deliver faithful support for criminal justice reform in Texas. Faith leaders say they want to share a faithful message that all people are created in the image of God.

Rev. Stephen Brown said, “It is our responsibility to create a system that restores instead of punishes people for making mistakes. Being well aware that a number of our current policies disproportionately penalize people for being Black, Latino, and poor, it becomes our faithful duty to stand with and for those who are inequitably targeted by these policies. We are going to Austin to ask that human dignity be the guiding principle in every legislative decision that is made during the 85th Legislative Session.”

The event was co-sponsored by the interfaith advocacy network Texas Impact, and Faith in Texas, the Texas affiliate of the national social justice group PICO.

Texas Impact Congregational Outreach Director Scott Atnip said faith communities have a long history of criminal justice advocacy. “Our scriptural traditions are clear that we are to seek not only justice for victims and those accused of crimes, but also restoration for the entire community. Texas faith communities support legislation that builds trust in local communities, protects vulnerable people who are at risk of criminal justice involvement, and assures those who have committed offenses and paid their debts that the past does not have to dictate the future.”

Religious leaders are focusing on the following bills, some of which are part of the package known as “Smart on Crime” championed by business leaders.

Sandra Bland Act (No arrest for non-jailable offenses)

  • SB 1849, SB 271

Ban the Box (Fair Chance Hiring for persons with felony convictions)

  • HB 548 (Pro), HB 577 (Against)

Bail Reform (Removing bail/high bail for non-violent offenses)

  • SB1338

Sentencing Reform

  • HB1441

Juvenile Justice (Raise the age of adult convictions to 18 from 17, and protections for all minors)

  • HB 122, 1015, 676

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Faith in Texas is a multi-racial faith movement for social justice. It is part of the PICO National Network. PICO stands for People Improving Communities through Organizing. PICO is the nation's largest network that develops civic leadership in low and moderate-income faith communities for economic and racial justice. Learn more at www.faithintx.org

Texas Impact is the state’s oldest and largest interfaith legislative network. It was established in 1973 to be a voice in the Texas legislative process for the shared religious social concerns of Texas’ faith communities. It is supported by more than two dozen Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominational bodies; hundreds of local congregations, ministerial alliances and interfaith networks; and thousands of people of faith throughout Texas. Learn more at texasimpact.org

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