New Criminal Justice Reform Deal Upholds Biblical Values

bipartisan group of senators Finds Common Ground as Deal on Federal Prison and Sentencing Reform Moves to More Restorative Model

Today a bipartisan group of senators, led by Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, a deal that reflects a more restorative approach to criminal justice and incarceration. 

“This agreement would never have come together without the faith community pressing as hard as it did for reform,” said Craig DeRoche, executive director of Justice Fellowship, Prison Fellowship’s criminal justice advocacy arm. “Criminal justice reform is a top priority not only for Prison Fellowship, but also for dozens of other faith-based organizations. This legislation moves the federal system to a more restorative model that should awaken America to the value of human lives affected by crime and incarceration.”

Today’s deal addresses a variety of criminal justice issues by combining new ideas and provisions from several previously introduced bills. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 requires the Bureau of Prisons to assign programs based on the risks and needs of men and women in federal prisons. In exchange for completing programs proven to reduce the likelihood of them committing another crime, lower-risk prisoners can earn time toward pre-release custody. It expands eligibility for the federal safety valve and reduces mandatory minimum sentences and sentence enhancements for additional people convicted of drug offenses. The bill also includes reforms to address juveniles in the federal system, the need for an inventory of federal crimes and more accurate FBI background checks, among others.  

“We are grateful to Sen. Grassley and all the senators involved for relying on shared values to persevere and find common ground on complex issues. We recognize that this one bill does not include every reform we seek,” said DeRoche. We celebrate, however, that it signifies a watershed moment that will impact tens of thousands of lives and, most critically, has the prospect of being voted through the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans. We urge every member of Congress to support it.”

In 1983, the late Chuck Colson founded Justice Fellowship less than a decade after founding Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families. Justice Fellowship’s mission is to reform the justice system according to biblical restorative justice principles so that communities are safer, victims are respected and those who have committed crimes are transformed. Colson and Justice 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