The Faith Movement to End Gun Violence and Mass Incarceration
We share in the outrage growing from every corner of our nation that we have abandoned our young people to the clutches of violence fueled by greed, fear and despair. We bear witness to the deep pain of our nation’s people, whose loved ones are dying needlessly in our communities across the land, and that Our God commands we speak out about the sanctity of all life and affirm that all have the right to live in peace and safety.
There have been over 12 thousand gun deaths since the Newtown shooting in December of 2013:
- African-Americans are six times as likely as white Americans to die at the hands of a murderer, and roughly seven times as likely to murder someone. Young black men are fifteen times as likely to be murdered as young white men.
- In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks.
- Guns were used in 11,078 homicides in the U.S. in 2010, comprising almost 35% of all gun deaths, and over 68% of all homicides.
People of faith everywhere are commanded by our God to work tirelessly and in coalition with one another across racial lines, class and place lines, age and gender lines to vigorously confront:
- The proliferation and increasing lethality of guns in our neighborhoods and cities, towns and streets, malls and schools.
- The public policies that prevent formerly incarcerated people from returning to full citizenship across the country.
We seek to counter the dominant narrative that black bodies are expendable, by engaging race and faith and continuing to lift of the stories of those closest to the pain.
We are committed to uniting around the common pain and loss of those who have suffered in Newtown and New Orleans, Chicago and Columbine and Oak Creek and Oakland. We are committed through our work to heal the soul of a nation. We will be vigilant partners in the struggle to transform our communities from the valley of the shadow of death to the land of the living.—Lifelines to Healing Clergy
Mass Incarceration is the New Jim Crow:
- In the U.S., 2.2 million people are currently in prison or jail—a 500% increase over 30 years.
- Roughly 70% of imprisoned men and women in the U.S. are persons of color.
- Although Black Americans make up only 12.7% of the U.S. population, they comprise 48.2% of adults in federal, state, or local prisons and jails.
Michelle Alexander's groundbreaking book outlines how the country's current system of mass incarceration systematically strips African Americans of most of the essential rights gained during the Civil Rights movement.
Through a sustained effort, we will build partnerships that extend from the church to the precinct. By implementing anti-violence strategies and engaging in community-led nightwalks, we have invested in building a base that can turn the public will to save/preserve the lives of those most impacted- low-income people of color.
Adopting strategies that work: Ceasefire
The Ceasefire strategy is a unique partnership between clergy and community members, law enforcement agencies and service providers focused on sending a clear message to a strategic set of young men who have been identified through a data driven process as the drivers of violence in specific communities.
In the past 3 years PICO Federations across the country have:
- Organized impacted communities, mothers who have lost their sons, youth, clergy and returning citizens to stop the gun violence in some of our hardest hit urban communities.
Since 2012, our federations in partnership with many local organizations, city and law enforcement agencies have seen double digit reductions in gun violence including:
- Stockton, CA: 55% drop in fatal shootings and a 40% drop in non fatal shootings
- Oakland, CA: 30% drop in fatal shootings
- Richmond, CA: has seen a drop of 60% over the last two years which has resulted in the lowest homicide rate in 33 years
- Sacramento, CA: 3 years ago, the city saw a 70% drop in fatal shootings between two key groups who had been in a cycle of violence for many years
- Baton Rouge, LA: 33% drop in homicide rates
Policy + Power:
Over the next year we seek to harness our collective power by educating and engaging over 200 thousand voters. We will change policy in four key states—Ohio, Louisiana, California, Florida—that will make significant strides in reducing gun violence and creating prison reform. We will pull many levers: the intersection of gun violence and mass incarceration is cyclical in nature. By dismantling either one, we destroy both, ensuring that all of God’s children live free.
Over 1.5 million returning citizens are disenfranchised in Florida. Clergy, leaders, and community members are mobilizing to demand the restoration to full citizenship.
Over the past 2 years several of our federations in partnership with many local organizations, city and government agencies have successfully worked to build strategic capacity to end mass incarceration through their voting power.
- CA: Passed AB 109—California’s early Release Plan
- Richmond: In 2013 successfully halted jail expansion in Contra Costa county and implemented a comprehensive “ban-the-box” ordinance.
- FL: Building out a campaign that will significantly impact the 2014 mid-term elections by creating a ballot measure that returns 1.5 million disenfranchised back to full citizenship.
- LA: Working on building out to power to impact those who are adversely affected by the lack of pre-trial services.