SAMPLE LETTER: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Dear Member of Congress,
I am writing to urge you to support and pass the National Criminal Justice Act. The legislation would create a bipartisan commission tasked with studying the entire criminal justice system and make recommendations for comprehensive change.
Since the 1980s, overly-punitive tendencies have stretched the system too far to be effective. Results are high recidivism rates, with two-thirds of incarcerated individuals rearrested and one half reincarcerated.
Our scriptures issue the imperative to care for society’s marginalized and vulnerable individuals, including loving our enemies. However, we currently see a system which does not effectively care for offenders or victims.
The NCJCA offers significant opportunity to study and address these issues.
[Name and address]
This letter is also available here.
ADVOCACY ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES
Bluffton Students Write Letters on Criminal Justice System
On October 26, Bluffton (Ohio) University’s PEACE Club hosted its first monthly letter writing night. For the month of October, participants chose to focus on the National Criminal Justice Commission Act. PEACE Club Vice-President Katie Wineland wrote,
Eight of us gathered over dinner that evening to educate ourselves on the issue, discuss the legislation, and work on letters to Congress in support of the NCJCA. So far, two letters have been completed and sent, and hopefully more will go out in the coming weeks. We trust that the impact of these letter writing nights will grow in the future, but most of all, we hope that they will empower PEACE Club members and all Bluffton University students to be active advocates for peace and justice.
MCC Washington Staff Visit Messiah College
On November 16, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach and Theo Sitther traveled to Messiah College (Grantham, Pa.) to give a presentation entitled, “Unnatural Disasters: U.S. Policy, Economic justice and World Hunger.” The presentation focused on the current state of global hunger and how U.S. trade and development policies can better respond to the needs of marginalized populations. The visit was meant to engage students and the surrounding community on global issues as part of International Education Week.
This fall, Mary Stata completed her two-year term as Legislative Assistant for International Affairs. She will continue to work on U.S. policy with the Friends Committee for National Legislation. Patricia Kisare is our new Legislative Assistant for International Affairs. Patricia recently finished a master’s degree in international affairs at Penn State University. We’re delighted to have her as part of the staff.
Also this fall, we welcomed the contributions of two interns: Michelle Trujillo, a participant in the American Studies Program, and Crystel Britto from George Washington University.
On October 17, Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach spoke at Prairieview Mennonite Church in Flanagan, Illinois. She also spoke at New Creation Fellowship Church in Newton, Kansas on November 7. MCC Washington Office staff are available to speak in congregations on a variety of issues. To request a speaker, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 544-6564.
Ecumenical Advocacy Days, March 25-28
Development, Security and Economic Justice: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?
Register now for next year’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days, to be held in Washington, D.C. Registration, schedule and programming information is available at advocacydays.org.
Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference, February 18-20
Rooting for Peace: Go Peace, Grow Peace
Bluffton University will host the Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference, focused on ethical food production. The goal is to incorporate the conceptual themes of shalom, community, justice, and stewardship and link them with the actions of gardening locally and globally, responding to hunger, gleaning, eating sustainably, decreasing waste, and composting.
Seminars in January
A reminder that the MCC Washington Office is helping to lead two upcoming seminars. The first will be held in Harrisonburg, Va. on Monday, January 17, before School for Leadership Training (SLT) at Eastern Mennonite Seminary. The topic is “To See Like You See: Talking about Difficult Political Issues in Congregations.”
The second will be held Monday, January 24, prior to Pastors’ Week at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. This Leadership Clinic is entitled, “Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves: Navigating Social Policy Issues in Our Churches.” Information about both events is at washington.mcc.org/advocate/seminars.
Talking About Difficult Political Issues in Congregations
Navigating Social Policy Issues in Our Churches
Leadership clinic at AMBS
Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference
Ecumenical Advocacy Days