AUSTIN — Gus Reyes, director of the Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission, joined several key representatives from the Smart-on-Crime Coalition on Wednesday, December 14, for a press conference to encourage criminal justice reform for the upcoming Texas Legislative Session.
During the briefing, held at the Texas Association of Business, Reyes said, “Our commitment to justice is one of the reasons we joined the Smart-on-Crime Coalition. We want a justice system that is just; this means both supporting victims and holding offenders accountable, but also gives former offenders who have served their sentences the opportunity to re-enter society.”
The Texas Smart-on-Crime coalition is the largest statewide effort working to make Texas’ criminal justice system smarter, safer and more cost effective. The coalition brings together businesses, faith organizations, nonprofit organizations and the state’s most prominent conservative and progressive organizations to pursue a plan to address, reduce and prevent crime.
“As a person of faith, I believe the opportunity for redemption should be given to those who have served their sentence and are looking for a second chance to fulfill their God-given potential,” Reyes said. “That’s why we believe it’s so important to scale up programs for reentry — life skills training, education, and employment. It’s why we’re so excited about the reentry vocational pilot program, which is part of the Smart-on-Crime Agenda.”
The reentry vocational program aims to help formerly incarcerated individuals become productive members of communities again. It will also help close the revolving recidivism door, thus preventing and reducing crime.
Other Smart-on-Crime Coalition members present included Bill Hammond, Texas Association of Business; Marc Levin & Derek Cohen, Texas Public Policy Foundation; Traci Berry, Goodwill of Central Texas; Craig DeRoche, Prison Fellowship; Terri Burke, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas; and Shakira Pumphrey, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
Criminal justice reform is one of several legislative priorities the Christian Life Commission has approved for the 85th Legislative Session of the Texas Legislature. Visit texasbaptists.org/clc to view the additional priorities and more information.