Justice and Morality: A Faith-Based Approach to Reform

This session explored how the faith community has made a difference in criminal justice and policing reform, but also pointed out how it could do better to affect change.

Allison DeFoor, canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, was unequivocal in his disapproval of the current criminal justice system: “This system is wrong. Morally wrong.” And while he praised the efforts of volunteers, religious groups, and non-profit organizations, he expressed his belief that the faith community’s advocacy for criminal justice and policing reform is far from adequate.

CEO of Prison Entrepreneurship Program Bert Smith agreed that the faith community could go beyond its volunteerism to advocate for reform, but he praised faith leaders and volunteers for directly engaging with people in prison: “I really believe that there is immense transformative power in the love that a volunteer brings to the prisoner when he or she personally engages.”

For Craig DeRoche, executive director of Justice Fellowship, the faith community is better positioned to maintain human dignity in the justice system by focusing on the principles, values, and morals that guide criminal justice reform. In response to moderator Brianna Walden’s question regarding how the faith community can balance forgiveness for the incarcerated with restitution and protection for victims, DeRoch discussed Justice Fellowship’s restorative justice approach, which works to find harmony between the person who has done harm, the person who has been harmed, and the greater community.

Tim Head, executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, talked about the importance of ensuring that the criminal justice system offers the chance for behavioral reform. This, he emphasized, is necessary because the majority of people in prison will re-enter society. As he argued, “Everybody won’t change, but the goal is for everybody to have the opportunity to change once they enter into the correctional system.”

Overall, the panelists agreed that reform would require not only changes to public policy but a change in culture. The Charles Koch Foundation is collecting proposals to address this issue and other facets of criminal justice reform. Learn more and submit idea on the Foundation’s Request for Proposals page.

More Blog Posts

04-05-2018 08:04pm

Second Chances for Prisoners Help All of Us

Read more

03-20-2018 09:03am

Iraq at 15

According to a new poll conducted by the Charles Koch Institute and Real Clear, Americans do not think that the Iraq War has made the United States safer, nor do they think the Middle East is more stable.

Read more

02-13-2018 09:02am

Julie Warren Profile

After working at the U.S. Department of Justice, and as a criminal appellate lawyer for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Julie Warren is devoted to improving the system for everyone—from parolees to police.

Read more

Sign up for updates

Sign up to receive weekly updates in news and events.