Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform, presented the 2019 Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award to Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) for their work on the FIRST STEP Act and its eventual passage in December of 2018. The awards were presented during a ceremony at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel on Monday night.
The FIRST STEP Act is the first step in transforming federal prisons into safe and effective facilities that will reduce recidivism and strengthen our communities and economy. The legislation expands rehabilitative programming and earned-time credit opportunities. It also reduces and clarifies mandatory minimums and better provides for the needs of federal prisoners.
“In addition to cosponsoring the FIRST STEP Act from its inception, Representatives Doug Collins and Hakeem Jeffries worked tirelessly, always in a bipartisan manner, to pass this critical legislation late last year that paves the way to rehabilitate federal prisoners, protect public safety, and provide opportunities for incarcerated men and women to be released sooner for good behavior,” said James Ackerman, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship. “Representatives Collins and Jeffries are receiving the Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award due to the simple fact that they crafted this bipartisan bill in a manner that reflects their shared belief in human dignity and potential.”
“We are honoring these two dedicated public servants because they came together to lift up the voice of the voiceless, regardless of the political fallout,” said Craig DeRoche, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy. “They used their considerable political capital for those people in our country that have none. Both men went to battle to overcome partisan objections within their own parties, not just across the aisle. But they stood together because of their shared values and faith that they could make a difference for thousands of men and women across the country.”
“The First Step Act invests in what Americans value most fiercely—people,” said Rep. Doug Collins (GA). “Since this bill was signed into law, we’ve seen communities restored, hope renewed, and families reunited. I’m proud to have partnered with my friend, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, to promote human dignity in our criminal justice system, and I’m incredibly honored to stand next to him today as we receive this award.”
The Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award is bestowed annually on a person(s) with a record of faithful, unswerving, and winsome advocacy for restorative criminal justice reform—a person whose leadership blazes a trail toward a future of proportional punishment, constructive prison culture, second chances, and safer communities.
Charles Colson Advocate of Hope Award
The Charles Colson Hope Awards, sponsored by Prison Fellowship, recognize people who have faithfully and courageously worked to restore those affected by crime and incarceration. Charles Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship more than 40 years ago, was at ease with presidents, prisoners, wardens, pastors, laypeople, and legislators.
Rep. Doug Collins
Ranking Member, House Committee on Judiciary
A Northeast Georgia native and graduate of the University of North Georgia, Rep. Doug Collins pastored Gainesville’s Chicopee Baptist Church for over a decade before serving the local community as an attorney and the representative for Georgia’s 27th State House District.
As a U.S. military chaplain, Rep. Collins has ministered to our country’s service members since 2002. He completed a 2008–2009 deployment to Iraq while stationed at Balad Air Force Base. A Lieutenant Colonel, Rep. Collins remains active in the Air Force Reserve and has represented Georgia’s Ninth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013.
In the 116th Congress, Rep. Collins serves as ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary. In this role, he leads his Republican colleagues on a wide breadth of issues within the Committee’s purview, which include Second Amendment rights, pro-life issues, defending religious liberty, and overseeing law enforcement agencies.
While Rep. Collins is a public servant, attorney, and practicing military chaplain, he remains foremost a husband to Lisa and father to daughter Jordan and sons Copelan and Cameron.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries
Chairman, House Democratic Caucus
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries represents the diverse Eighth Congressional District of New York, which encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his fourth term in the United States Congress, Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee.
Rep. Jeffries serves as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, making him the fifth-highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. He is also the former whip of the Congressional Black Caucus and previously co-chaired the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, where he helped develop the For The People agenda.
In Congress, Rep. Jeffries has emerged as a tireless advocate for social and economic justice. He has worked hard to help residents impacted by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, reform our criminal justice system, improve the economy for everyday Americans, and protect our health care. Prior to his election to the Congress, Rep. Jeffries served for six years in the New York State Assembly.
Rep. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital, raised in Crown Heights, and is a product of New York City’s public-school system. He lives in New York City with his family.
About Prison Fellowship
Prison Fellowship has been helping restore men and women behind bars for more than 40 years. Prison Fellowship also advocates for federal and state criminal justice reforms that transform those responsible for crime, validate victims, and encourage communities to play a role in creating a safe, redemptive, and just society.
The FIRST STEP Act was sponsored by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.; Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Jim Forbes Prison Fellowship (304) 780-5628 firstname.lastname@example.org