WASHINGTON—Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform, presented the 2019 Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award to Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for their work on the FIRST STEP Act and its eventual passage in December of 2018. The awards were presented during a ceremony at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel on Monday night.
The FIRST STEP Act is the first step in transforming federal prisons into safe and effective facilities that will reduce recidivism and strengthen our communities and economy. The legislation expands rehabilitative programming and earned-time credit opportunities. It also reduces and clarifies mandatory minimums and better provides for the needs of federal prisoners.
“The First Step Act invests in what Americans value most fiercely—people,” said Rep. Doug Collins. “Since this bill was signed into law, we’ve seen communities restored, hope renewed, and families reunited. I’m proud to have partnered with my friend, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, to promote human dignity in our criminal justice system, and I’m incredibly honored to stand next to him today as we receive this award.”
“In addition to cosponsoring the FIRST STEP Act from its inception, Representatives Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries have worked tirelessly in a bipartisan manner to pass this critical legislation that paves the way to rehabilitate federal prisoners, protect public safety, and provide opportunities for prisoners to be released sooner for good behavior,” said James Ackerman, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship. “Representatives Collins and Jeffries are receiving the Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award due to the simple fact that they crafted this bipartisan bill that reflects their shared belief in human dignity and potential.”
“We are honoring these two dedicated public servants because they came together to lift up the voice of the voiceless, regardless of the political fallout,” said Craig DeRoche, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy. “They used their considerable political capital for those people in our country that have none. Both men went to battle to overcome partisan objections within their own parties, not just across the aisle. But they stood together because of their shared values and faith that they could make a difference for thousands of men and women across the country.”
The Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award is bestowed annually on a person(s) with a record of faithful, unswerving, and winsome advocacy for restorative criminal justice reform—a person whose leadership blazes a trail toward a future of proportional punishment, constructive prison culture, second chances, and safer communities.
The Charles Colson Hope Awards, sponsored by Prison Fellowship, recognize people who have faithfully and courageously worked to restore those affected by crime and incarceration. Charles Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship more than 40 years ago, was at ease with presidents, prisoners, wardens, pastors, laypeople, and legislators.
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