The U.S. House of Representatives has passed prison reform legislation that would integrate faith-based programs into federal prisons to help prisoners prepare to successfully reenter society.
The First Step Act was authored by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and has the goal of incentivizing prisoner participation in vocational and rehabilitative programs. Lawmakers approved the bipartisan legislation by a 360-59 vote on May 22.
“I'm thrilled to see such bipartisan support for the First Step Act,” said James Ackerman, president of Prison Fellowship, the largest prison ministry in the United States.
“We have a duty as a society,” continued Ackerman, “to implement a more restorative approach to criminal justice -- one where people become healthier and more productive citizens when they return to society after serving time in prison then when they went into prison.”
Meanwhile, here’s an interesting statistic from the new Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report on prisoner recidivism: “An estimated 68% of released prisoners were arrested within 3 years, 79% within 6 years, and 83% within 9 years.” Yes, it’s a complicated subject. But make sure your eyes are wide open, before you start thinking that de-incarceration is the answer to our problems.