The Rev. Reggie Longcrier is seen in his office at Exodus Homes in Hickory, N.C. preparing for his trip to Washington D.C. on February 28, 2012 to participate in a national forum for faith leaders to brainstorm strategies to end mass incarceration hosted by The Sentencing Project. To prepare for the forum, he has been studying national trends and current research on the subject such as a 2011 Pew Charitable Trust report called “State of Recidivism, The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons”, and “The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander.
The Rev. Reggie Longcrier, founding executive director of Exodus Homes is going to Washington, D.C. to participate in a planning meeting of religious leaders convened by The Sentencing Project to develop a long term vision and strategy for ending mass incarceration The meeting on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 in Washington, D.C. is part of a 9-month process of exploring the dramatic rise in the prison population in the United States, and has included state based advocates, formerly incarcerated persons, and national organizations working towards reforming the nation’s criminal justice system. Faith leaders play an important role in calling for significant changes in the criminal justice system because of their ability to expand the constituency engaged in reform.
Exodus Homes is a faith-based United Way agency that provides 63 beds of supportive housing to homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prison in Hickory, N.C. This is not the first time representatives from Exodus Homes have been invited to help shape national policy in Washington.
The goal of this convening is to bring together faith-based leaders who can help identify the structure and framework of a national campaign to end mass incarceration. Faith leaders play an important role in calling for significant changes in the criminal justice system because of their ability to expand the constituency engaged in reform. Longcrier was invited because of the national reputation of excellence at Exodus Homes which includes his work as chaplain of Catawba Correctional Center in Newton, N.C.
The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration with 2.3 million people currently in the nation’s prisons or jails — a 500% increase over the past thirty years. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and state governments being overwhelmed by the burden of funding a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not the most effective means of achieving public safety.
The Sentencing Project is a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing law and practice, and alternatives to incarceration. As a result of The Sentencing Project’s research, publications and advocacy, many people know that this country is the world’s leader in incarceration, that one in three young black men is under control of the criminal justice system, that five million Americans can’t vote because of felony convictions, and that thousands of women and children have lost welfare, education and housing benefits as the result of convictions for minor drug offenses.The Sentencing Project is dedicated to changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment.
Longcrier has over 25 years of experience working with incarcerated people and those returning to the community from prison. To prepare for the forum, he has been studying national trends and current research on the subject such as a 2011 Pew Charitable Trust report called “State of Recidivism, The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons”, and “The New Jim Crow – Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander.
Longcrier is excited to participate in the growing momentum for reforming the United States’ correctional system saying, “The justification for change is clear. Restorative justice and community based programs like Exodus Homes that act as an alternative to incarceration for non-violent offenders are more effective and less expensive. Mass incarceration and the subsequent prison re-entry crisis is creating a growing underclass of unemployable people who are almost compelled to return to prison to survive.”