The Psalmist expresses relief in the forgiveness of God. His survival is dependent upon God not keeping a record of his wrongs (vs. 3). He finds great hope in the knowledge of God’s unfailing love and overflowing redemption (vs. 7-8). How is a person’s survival threatened when a record of one’s wrongs is maintained? What does “redemption” look like for a person with a record? What does love have to do with it?
On Sunday, March 23, we learned about the FORCE project from Marlon Chamberlain. In 2013, Illinois Governor Quinn signed a bill into law that would allow ex-offenders to seal their non-violent records. How does a sealing bill mirror the act of God Psalm 103?
When we refuse to see the lawbreaker as a member of the community, it is easy to marginalize them and treat them at “the outsider” or “the other”. While the law breaker has done damage to the community, (s)he is still part of the community. The states of Minnesota and Vermont are taking bold steps to make restoration to community a part of its crime prevention strategy. Based on a model developed by a Mennonite pastor in Canada, “Circles of Support and Accountability” (CoSAs) connect moderately high-risk ex-offenders to non-professional community groups to help them reintegrate into the community. In a 2013 study, it was found that only 5% of those ex-offenders who were in a CoSA group were charged with a crime between 2010 and 2013 compared with 45% of those who were not in a CoSA. Much of the funding for these programs comes from the Second Chance Act, a bill that was signed into law by George W. Bush in 2008. The bill provided funding to every state for programs that aided re-entry. Rep. Danny Davis (D- IL) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced HB 3465, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act in November 2013 and it was referred to committee. On January 9, 2014, it was referred to a subcommittee. Without passage of the reauthorization bill, the Act is discontinued. You can follow this bill HERE. To read more about the Second Chance Act, link HERE.