We are Evangelicals and we recognize that every person is created in the image of God, and therefore all life has immeasurable value. We believe that our justice system should reflect this truth, and that every individual should be treated with respect and dignity.
Our current justice system, and our responses to violence in particular, have not lived up to this vision and instead have delivered further pain and harm to communities. We need new responses to violence that address trauma, advance racial equity, and fulfill the promise of healing, safety, and restoration for all.
We may not agree on all of the details, but we stand united around these basic principles in our quest for justice:
- Healing for individuals and communities harmed by violence is an essential component of justice. Crime survivors should have the supports and resources they need to rebuild their lives.
- We recognize that those who hurt others have also often suffered from significant past harm. While this does not excuse their actions, it does mean that they, too, need the supports and resources to heal, address their trauma, and rebuild their lives.
- Violence is not the inevitable behavior of intrinsically evil people. We should invest in prevention that tackles root causes, including trauma-informed and public health approaches that have shown results.
- Systems of accountability should support people in their work towards restoration and redemption. Restorative justice should be used more widely. A sentence like the death penalty leaves no room at all for such change, and should be ended.
- People of color have borne the brunt of many of the justice system’s flaws. The justice system should not be a tool to further racial inequity or any other disparities.
It’s time for our justice system to be the solution instead of the problem. In working toward this goal, Micah 6:8 should be our guide: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
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