The Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition (ICJC) formed in 2007 to support the passage of the Second Chance Act, which provided reentry programs for returning citizens in the areas of housing, employment, substance abuse, and mental health treatment. ICJC’s’ effective advocacy was integrally connected to the 2008 passage of the Second Chance Act and later—with many other partners—the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which significantly reduced the sentencing disparities for convictions related to crack versus powder cocaine violations. This advocacy was successfully followed by support for the passage of the Death in Custody Reporting Act in 2014.

In early 2014, ICJC began advocacy around the Sentencing Reform Act and the Corrections Act, both separate pieces of legislation at the time. The group worked diligently on developing a coalition to support sentencing reforms, doing so in close collaboration with the staff of key champions in Congress.

In pushing to combine the two bills into the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 (S.2123), the ICJC conducted numerous lobby visits, whipping votes for the bill, working closely with Hill senior staff, and coordinating an effective grassroots/grasstops effort. Eventually, the bill was conferenced with the House and ready for a vote in the Senate but it died in light of the 2016 Presidential election. All of the work that was done on this bill, laid the groundwork for the eventual passage of The First Step Act of 2018 with significant sentencing reforms included.

As a faith community, we are committed to policies that restore equity, end excessive punishments, promote alternatives to incarceration, encourage rehabilitation and reintegration and protect the dignity and well-being of everyone impacted by the criminal justice system. Today, we focus on smarter sentencing policies, prison reform, juvenile justice issues, improving reentry programs, and eliminating the many collateral consequences that prevent our community members from returning home successfully.