This month, California Congress passed AB32, a bill that would end for-profit prisons in the state. On September 19, I joined with faith leaders from across the state to meet with Governor Newsom and urge him to sign this bill into law. Organized through Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, interfaith leaders, advocacy partners and families directly impacted by the dehumanizing practices of for-profit prisons spoke at the Governor’s office. We recognized that AB32 was an important step toward mending our past, healing our present and transforming our future. I share with you the remarks I offered, as a reminder of the work that Jesus has called Lakeshore to, work that we are embodying in many ways.
I stand here as a follower of Jesus, whose life and ministry was about restoring people to community. This restoration was offered to people who had lost their way, people whom society shunned, people who were wrongly accused, people who had made really bad choices, and people who ended up on the fringes of society for any number of reasons. Whatever the cause of the separation, Jesus offered both victims and perpetrators a way back into community.
In so doing, he provided a vision for beloved community where everyone is included, everyone is cherished, and everyone has something to contribute. In Jesus’ ministry, no one was expendable. No one was beyond inclusion. Wherever isolation or alienation occurred, Jesus provided opportunities for healing and restoration.
AB32 is a one essential step toward restoring humanity to our communities: by refusing to let people be treated as opportunities for profit; by refusing to ignore the harm being done by mass incarceration; and by refusing to allow society to be diminished by the lack of participation and contribution from all its members.
We are harmed by living is a society that harms its residents. We can do better. We must do better. We are committed to working toward new ways of being community where everyone is included, everyone is cherished, everyone is able to contribute and benefit from the contributions of others.
Another world is possible. Governor Newsom, we call on you to work with us, so together we can lead the way toward healing, toward restoration, and toward full inclusion of all who call California their home.