Nation’s Largest Prison Ministry Praises Restorative Nature of New Recs from Bipartisan Task Force

Organization Founded by Task Force’s Namesake Encourages Continued Collaboration to Achieve Meaningful Reforms

Despite the snow-induced cancellation of today’s discussion on criminal justice reform at the White House, Tuesday the bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections will announce its recommendations to Congress designed with the hope of making our criminal justice system more restorative. Mandated by Congress to examine challenges in the federal corrections system and develop practical, data-driven policy responses, the task force is named for the late Charles Colson, the disgraced Watergate conspirator whose newfound Christian faith propelled him to found Prison Fellowship in 1976. The nine-member bipartisan task force is chaired by former U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts and includes Prison Fellowship Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Craig DeRoche, whose organization today is the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners and their families. 

“We thank Congress for making criminal justice reform a priority and for its bipartisan collaboration, along with the president, on this important work,” said DeRoche. “The task force upholds Chuck Colson’s and Prison Fellowship’s belief in the inherent value and dignity of each human life, which means that once people have paid their debt to society through a proportionate punishment, they are capable of being transformed and making significant contributions in their communities.”

Prison Fellowship particularly praises the task force’s recommendation to create a more constructive culture in prisons, acknowledging the importance of providing a safe and rehabilitative environment that gives true opportunity for prisoners to build accountability and prepare for successful reentry. Prison Fellowship welcomes the task force’s recommendation that the federal criminal justice system enhance its accountability through increased transparency and better coordination across agencies, including sharing and adopting evidence-based, restorative practices already being pioneered in some states.

“Our father would have been so proud to see his name associated with this task force because the very creation of this bipartisan group signals that criminal justice reform is important to our nation’s leaders,” said Chris Colson, son of Charles Colson and a Prison Fellowship board member, speaking on behalf of the family. “He made the absolute most of his own second chance, in great part by passionately advocating for those who have no voice. We are grateful for the exposure the task force has brought to his legacy, to Prison Fellowship’s core belief in the God-given dignity of every person and to the mission of restoring those affected by crime and incarceration.” 

One aspect of Prison Fellowship’s mission is to reform the justice system according to biblical values so that communities are safer, victims are respected and those who have committed crimes are transformed. Colson and Prison Fellowship have played a leading role in working with members of Congress to pass groundbreaking justice reforms, including the:

  • Religious Freedom Restoration Act
  • Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act
  • Prison Rape Elimination Act
  • Fair Sentencing Act
  • Second Chance Act

We believe Congress has already embraced many of the concepts in the report through the recent reforms passed by both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees,” said DeRoche. “We thank members of Congress, particularly Rep. Goodlatte, R-Va., and Sen. Grassley, R-Iowa, for their leadership in the criminal justice bills currently working their way through the legislative branch and encourage them to continue the bipartisan effort to achieve meaningful reforms.”

Available for Interview: 

  • Charles Colson Task Force member 
  • Prison Fellowship Senior Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Craig DeRoche