‘I was in prison and you visited Me’ - A Christian approach to criminal justice
The Inter Church Criminal Justice Taskforce, comprising senior Victorian Anglican, Catholic, Salvation Army and Uniting Church leaders, has released this brochure to give a Christian perspective on current issues of punishment, imprisonment and rehabilitation, and to offer effective and just ways to reduce crime and increase community safety.
In a related development, Victorian Church leaders have written to all Members of Parliament, calling for a 'restorative justice' approach to crime and offending, with a focus on prevention of crime, support for victims of crime, diversion from prison, and rehabilitation of offenders. Click here for a copy of the letter.
Actions you can take to support a fairer approach to victims of crime and those who break the law
1. If your church congregation has a social justice group, attend meetings and discuss criminal justice issues. See if there are initiatives the group can undertake to support prisoners and their families in your community. Invite speakers to address the group.
2. Talk to your family and friends about how to build safer and more just communities. Find out more about the needs of vulnerable people in your local community, see if there are ways you can help.
3. Write to politicians including your local Members of Parliament, ask them for their views about criminal justice, tell them you do not support the ‘tough on crime’ approach.
4. Give your support to faith-based and other community organisations which help vulnerable groups, prisoners and those recently released from prison.
5. Contact prison chaplains for your faith community, ask them what you can do to help.
6. Further Reading and Links
The attached more detailed paper was written to inform the development of materials prior to the November 2014 Victorian State Election. It is provided as background information for other advocacy purposes. Drawing on discussions of the Inter-church Criminal Justice Taskforce, the paper seeks to
- Reflect best practice policies in each area of concern (refer to the Table of Contents for the policy areas)
- Show how government can migrate from current practice to where we would like criminal justice policy to go
- Provide cogent argument for policy change – the government is seeking better, more cost-effective ways than the present way. The paper outlines alternative approaches to current problems.