February 14, 2020
From President Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address:
“Last year, I heard, through friends, the story of Alice Johnson. I was deeply moved. In 1997, Alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first-time, non-violent, drug offender. Over the next 22 years, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population, and far beyond.
Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing, and the need to remedy this total injustice. She served almost that 22 years and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life.
In June, I commuted Alice’s sentence. When I saw Alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did something right. Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have the power to shape our own destiny.
Inspired by stories like Alice’s, my administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the FIRST STEP Act into law. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African American community. The FIRST STEP Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption.
We are also joined tonight by Matthew Charles from Tennessee. In 1996, at the age of 30, Matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored many of his fellow inmates. Now, Matthew is the very first person to be released from prison under the FIRST STEP Act.”
“Remember those in prison as if you were bound with them, and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them.” (Hebrews 13:3; GNT)
Give Him 15 minutes in prayer:
- Click the links above and learn more about Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles. Pray for their success in life and that the Lord uses them to continue to reform the U.S. justice system.
- Click here to see how disproportionate the African American prison population is in the U.S. Thank the Lord that these rates are now falling.
- Click here, here, and here to learn about and pray for Christian ministries working in prisons, with and for prisoners, and to change the prison system.
A prayer you can pray:
Lord, when we are presented with real people as examples of a system out of alignment with Your principles, then it is harder to ignore, and easier to pray. We are glad President Trump invited Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles to the State of the Union Address. Being able to hear what they lived through has highlighted an area of U.S. justice that needs some work. Though statistics show there have been some changes, more are needed. Thank You for the gift of the FIRST STEP Act. The principles in it are biblical, giving prisoners options to reform, if they desire, instead of just serving their time. Alice and Matthew are both good examples of those who used their time in prison to change their lives and focus on helping others. We bless them, Lord, and ask You to keep providing opportunities for them outside the prison walls to care for themselves and their families, and to help others turn their own lives around.
We intercede specifically for the African American prison population. Both Alice and Matthew are Black. Sentences tend to be longer and more restrictive historically for that people group. This is injustice and we thank You that You will continue to help America to correct this. Thank You for granting us compassion for the prisoners, so we can learn about and pray into this reform in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The U.S. justice system is being transformed to be life-transforming.
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