Criminal Justice


One of the priorities of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) is to empower the church to engage the issue of criminal justice. Alongside the Christian Action Commission and other partners throughout the denomination, we are working together to educate, equip, connect, and empower congregations to be the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of the complexities of the criminal justice system. We hope that through this partnership you will encounter stories, resources, and entry points to join these efforts.

I was in prison and you visited me…. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me… – Matthew 25:35-40 (NRSV)

Featured Resources

Rethinking Incarceration Book

Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice That Restores

New Release from Dominique DuBois Gilliard, LMDJ Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation

The United States has more people locked up in jails, prisons, and detention centers than any other country in the history of the world. Mass incarceration has become a lucrative industry, and the criminal justice system is plagued with bias and unjust practices. And the church has unwittingly contributed to the problem.

Dominique Gilliard explores the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining Christianity’s role in its evolution and expansion. He then shows how Christians can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions.

The church has the power to help transform our criminal justice system. Discover how you can participate in the restorative justice needed to bring authentic rehabilitation, lasting transformation, and healthy reintegration to this broken system.


The New Jim Crow

by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.


Letters from Stateville

From the Nov/Dec 2016 issue of the Covenant Companion Magazine

In 2015 North Park Theological Seminary began offering theology courses at Stateville Correctional Center outside Chicago. Follow the link below to read letters from incarcerated students and their professor on their transformative experiences of faith.

The Cross and the Prison Cell

As we enter Holy Week isolated, alone, and confined to our homes, could there be a better time to reflect upon the modern day equivalent of the cross and the experiences of those who know it best. Join us in this journey through the Stations of the Cross and the stories of those who sit closest to where Jesus would be if Good Friday were today.

Race, Terrorism and the Death Penalty: Keep your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On!

Ted Talk from Bryan Stevenson, Director of Equal Justice Initiative.

In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country’s
black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America’s unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness.

Our Resolution

In 2010, the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church passed the Resolution on Criminal Justice. Click here to read what our church body believes about the biblical, theological, and social implications of this complicated issue. Consider the call and response section as you think through where your church might feel called to engage this ministry priority.

Next steps

Want to learn more? View our Criminal Justice bibliography.

If you want to get involved but don’t know how, or if you would like updates on upcoming trips, events, and conversations happening related to criminal justice, we want to connect with you. Round table and affinity groups have also been formed throughout North America for people involved in ministries related to criminal justice.