Alexandria, Va. (Nov. 26, 2018) — Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), joined the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in sending a joint letter to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary encouraging the passage of the First Step Act to improve the lives of thousands of people impacted by our federal criminal justice system. The First Step Act includes good measures of prison reform that move people from incarceration to transitioning back into society. The Act also includes meaningful efforts to address unjust sentencing laws.
Catholic Charities agencies, diocesan and parish programs along with the variety of ministries of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, work with millions of people on the margins each year, tens of thousands of whom are somehow involved in the criminal justice system, including victims of crime and persons returning from prison. The ministries are focused on helping returning citizens get training and employment so that, once they have served their time, they have the tools they need to make contributions to their families and their community going forward.
“We know that the system can do better in how it interacts with the root causes of crime, poverty and lack of community safety,” said Sr. Donna Markham OP, PhD, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. “As the Church teaches: Punishment does not serve merely the purpose of defending the public order and guaranteeing the safety of persons; it becomes as well an instrument for the correction of the offender….There is a twofold purpose here, ” she said.