The work of changing the US system of mass incarceration is an ongoing work. Therefore, we are providing resources to help you stay connected. Please see below for the Locked in Solidarity litany, organizations working to support the community, and other resources.
Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Resources: http://www.ccda.org/biblical-justice/mass-incarceration
Urban Entry “Remembering Prisoners” trailer: http://www.urbanentry.org/ue6-remembering-prisoners.html
Equal Justice Initiative: http://eji.org/
Trailer for 13th: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V66F3WU2CKk
Locked in Solidarity Litany
God of Justice and Mercy…
We lament the cries of suffering and despair rising from the criminal justice system—from victims in and outside of prison, from the incarcerated, their families and communities, the wrongly convicted, returned citizens, and those who work in the system.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23)
We lament the way that mass incarceration denies the full dignity of all people, from policymakers, to law enforcement, to people who are incarcerated.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them….God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good (Gen 1:27, 31)
We lament the social harm incarceration causes. We lament that the reentry process for returning citizens is an oppressive process leading to stigmatization; to obstacles finding employment and housing; and to poverty, marginalization, and recidivism. We lament incarceration as a profit-making industry.
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless. (Isaiah 10:1-2)
We lament the evils of racism and the harm it perpetuates in individuals, in communities, and in systems of power. We lament that racism infects the whole system of criminal justice in our time. We lament the racial inequities in arrests, charges, convictions, and incarceration rates.
“In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” (Colossians 3:11).
“But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).
We lament the spirit of fear that informs our view of people and our policy-making with regard to crime. We lament our judgment of the accused as other or the guilty as evil.
“When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again’” (John 8:9-11).
God of Love…
We affirm the biblical witness to God’s rich vision of love and justice for all humanity.
“…For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:3-4).
We affirm that there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from God’s love.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
We affirm the mark of the cross on our lives, where Jesus himself was a prisoner, and we affirm his charge to tend to the most vulnerable among us.
“I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me….Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:36, 40).
God who hears us…
We pray that the Church in the US would have its eyes opened to the lives burdened by mass incarceration.
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but do not hear” (Jeremiah 5:21).
We pray that the Church would take action in addressing the policies and structures that need to change around mass incarceration.
“But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22).
We pray that the Church’s response to mass incarceration would bear humble witness to Jesus who came to set prisoners free.
“Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. … So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:12, 17-18).
We remember those who are incarcerated and pray for all who minister among them, their families and returning citizens.
“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb. 13:3)
We pray that we would proclaim and live by the good news of Jesus Christ, who said:
“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” (Luke 4:18-19).
This litany was adapted from Reformed Church In America’s “The Church and Criminal Justice: A Brief Exhortation.”
Organizations Working in Various Areas Related to Mass Incarceration
Religious Coalition for Nonviolent Durham (RCND) – RCND’s mission is to prevent and rectify the injustice of violence that segregates our city and diminishes our humanity. They do this through vigils every second and fourth Thursdays at Shepherd’s House UMC, and through reconciliation and re-entry ministry. The Annual Vigil Against Violence is Thu, Feb 16, at Shepherd’s House UMC at 7pm. http://www.nonviolentdurham.org/
FADE Coalition – Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement (FADE), a part of the NC Second Chance Alliance, is a coalition who works to address racial disparities in the Durham police department’s law enforcement practices and hold police accountable for acts of violence. https://www.facebook.com/DURHAM.FADE/
StepUp Durham – StepUp builds relationships with adults and children who are affected by the challenges of unemployment and helps them transform their lives through employment and life skills training. Almost half of those involved are formerly incarcerated. http://www.stepupdurham.org/.
Inside-Outside Alliance – Inside-Outside Alliance supports the struggles of those inside (or formerly inside) Durham County jail, and their families and friends. https://amplifyvoices.com/
Alerta Migratoria – Alerta Migratoria is a local, Durham-based resource for undocumented immigrants seeking asylum in the US. http://alertamigratorianc.org/
SCSJ – The Southern Coalition for Social Justice partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the south to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing and communications. https://www.southerncoalition.org/
SpiritHouse – SpiritHouse works with low-wealth families and community members to uncover and uproot the systemic barriers that prevent us from gaining the resources, leverage and capacity for long-term self-sufficiency. http://www.spirithouse-nc.org/
Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods) – Durham CAN is a broad-based, non-profit organization that works to coalesce, train, and organize communities in Durham across religious, racial, ethnic, class, and geographic lines for the public good. http://www.durhamcan.org/
All of Us or None – All of us or none is a national organization initiative started by people who have been in prison and/or been impacted by the criminal justice system to fight against the discrimination that currently-and formally-incarcerated people and our families face every day. https://www.facebook.com/AllOfUsOrNoneNC/
Project Turn – Project TURN (Transform, Unlock, ReNew) works towards overcoming the dividing walls on both sides of the prison walls by creating spaces where people can learn with and from each other. https://www.schoolforconversion.org