The Church Stands with the Justice Declaration

And the World is Responding

House Speaker Paul Ryan greets Craig DeRoche, Prison Fellowship’s senior vice president of advocacy & public policy

On June 20, Prison Fellowship® and its partners announced the launch of the Justice Declaration during a press conference at the National Press Club.

Grounded in biblical values and signed by close to 100 prominent Christian leaders, the Justice Declaration is a call to the Church to deploy its unique and unparalleled capacity to respond to crime and over-incarceration.


Dr. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, joined James Ackerman, president and chief executive officer of Prison Fellowship, as well as a diverse group of Christian leaders in presenting the declaration.


Following the launch, the Justice Declaration was presented to House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and other politicians in hopes of garnering bipartisan support.

The declaration was also released online. Within the first day, 600 people had signed it. At the time of this publication, more than 1,400 signatures were listed.

In addition to the press conference, Moore and Ackerman cowrote an opinion piece for The Hill, sharing that, “the state can enforce the law, but it’s up to [the Church] to restore people and communities.” (THE HILL)

News coverage of the Justice Declaration was overwhelmingly positive, with a diverse group of organizations covering it:

BLACK CHRISTIAN NEWS NETWORK ONE: “Christian leaders sign Justice Declaration, calling for more equitable approach to incarceration, crime, and punishment.”

THE DAILY CALLER: “The coalition’s focus is as much about reforming incarceration as it is about reforming laws that place restrictions on the lives of those who have served their sentences in full.”

THE CHRISTIAN POST: “When we have family members left behind waiting for those who are incarcerated and wondering if anyone remembers them, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to be at the forefront of that.”

THE WASHINGTON TIMES: The “time for justice reform is now.”

RELEVANT MAGAZINE: “The declaration comes in sharp contrast to the reported plans of Attorney General Jeff Sessions who says he wants to double down on tougher policing.”

For more news coverage, visit Prison Fellowship’s Newsroom.


How can you respond? First, we ask that you declare your support by signing the Justice Declaration. Help spread the word by using our Justice Declaration social media toolkit.


If you are passionate about criminal justice reform, consider becoming a volunteer justice reform advocate. Mobilize your church by starting a prison outreach. Join Prison Fellowship in our mission to “remember those in prison” by mentoring prisoners and supporting their families through Angel Tree® and other means. And welcome returning citizens by meeting their needs and encouraging them as they transition back into society.


Take note of who is impacted by crime and incarceration and consider how you can respond to their needs.

  • Does your language hinder a restorative response to people impacted by crime? Consider changing your word choices. For example, some victims of crime prefer the term “survivor” and Prison Fellowship seeks to highlight human dignity of people in the justice system by opting for “men and women who are incarcerated” or “people behind bars” rather than “inmate” or “offender.”
  • Stay informed. Sign up for Prison Fellowship advocacy alerts so you know what’s happening with justice reform in your state and in Congress. Invite your friends to do likewise.

Finally, pray daily for those impacted by crime and incarceration in your church and community!

Originally published at on June 23, 2017.