National Lutheran News

ELCA task force offers draft criminal justice statement

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will address the U.S. criminal justice system in the “Draft Social Statement on Criminal Justice,” a draft social statement released to ELCA members and to the public March 15. While commending positive aspects of the system, the draft presented by an ELCA task force addresses the urgent need for reform.

“The task force was formed in response to concerns expressed from ELCA synods about the alarmingly high incarceration rates in the United States,” said Cynthia Osborne, chair of the ELCA task force charged with developing the social statement.

She said the United States ranks among the top two or three countries in the world in percentage of people under control of a criminal justice system — one out of 31 adults and, for people of color, as high as one out of 11.

As a draft, the statement also includes a response form designed for the 10,000 congregations of the ELCA to share feedback. Responses to the draft from ELCA congregations are due October 31. The task force will review responses and use them as feedback to prepare a proposed social statement with implementing resolutions for the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly to possibly consider as a formal statement on behalf of this church.

The 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly authorized the development of a social statement on criminal justice. The task force has been studying the issues and providing resource material to its members since 2008.

The draft statement is available at www.ELCA.org/ What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements-in-Process/Criminal-Justice.aspx.

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