Resources Related to Mass Incarceration

The Commission on Christian Action’s report to General Synod 2015 included the following resources congregations might use to educate their members and engage in advocacy activities related to mass incarceration.

CCA Commissioners:

                 Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Sealy - Moderator
                 Rev. Sophie Mathonnet-VanderWell - Vice Moderator
                 Rev. Lindsay Bona - Secretary
                 Bill Hertlein
                 Rev. Salome Ryew
                 Emra Seawood
                 Robin Suydam
                 Peter Vander Muelen (ecumenical)


Commission on Christian Action resource

Christian Reformed Church—Office of Social Justice

  • The office’s social justice newsletter covers highlights of news, advocacy opportunities, and ways to become educated about restorative practices and the criminal justice system. It will cover prison reform issues and restorative practices for congregations related to restorative justice and criminal justice. To subscribe, visit www2.crcna.org/pages/osj_newsletters.cfm.
  • OSJ offers a prison ministry training manual for volunteers who work inside prisons and serve as mentors for former prisoners (www2.crcna.org/pages/osj_prisonministry.cfm).
  • The Office of Social Justice can also provide speakers for workshops on mass incarceration upon request.

Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (www.capps-mi.org)

While primarily concerned with the state of Michigan, this website covers a wide range of issues, including corrections spending, sentencing, reentry, recidivism, prevention, prison privatization, and the parole process.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

A blog post discussing the rise in state prison populations has a downloadable interactive map with data from 1978 to 2013 that gives the total number of prisoners per state per year, the rate of imprisoned people per 100,000 people in the population, and total state spending on prisons (www.offthechartsblog.org/the-rise-in-state-prison-populations).

Justice Fellowship (www.justicefellowship.org)

Founded by Chuck Colson, Justice Fellowship seeks to change our criminal justice system at every level so that it reflects the principles of restorative justice supported by the Bible and rooted in history. This site has a long list of helpful resource websites dealing with all aspects of restorative justice.

Center for Prison Reform (centerforprisonreform.org)

The need for prison reform is an issue found in all fifty states. The Center for Prison Reform brings groups together around advocacy issues, lobbies Congress, builds resources, and works toward implementation when new prison reform laws are passed.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (www.bjs.org)

This site contains a wide variety of prison statistics.

The Sentencing Project (www.sentencingproject.org)

The Sentencing Project was founded in 1986 to provide defense lawyers with sentencing advocacy training and to reduce the reliance on incarceration. Since that time, the Sentencing Project has become a leader in the effort to bring national attention to disturbing trends and inequities in the criminal justice system with a successful formula that includes the publication of groundbreaking research, aggressive media campaigns, and strategic advocacy for policy reform.

Justice for Families (www.justice4families.org)

Justice for Families (J4F) is a national alliance of local organizations committed to ending the youth incarceration epidemic. J4F works toward two primary goals: 1) transform how juvenile justice systems operate so that families have voice and power in both how and what decisions are made, and 2) move resources away from youth incarceration toward direct investments in the youth, families, and communities most harmed by these policies.

Vera Institute of Justice (www.vera.org)

The Vera Institute of Justice contains a large library of criminal justice–related articles on a variety of topics such as men of color in the corrections system, public health issues involved with mass incarceration, and ways that corrections systems can deter crime. The institute has created a number of spin-off nonprofits, including the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (www.cases.org).