The Micah Center Criminal Justice and Prison Reform Advocacy group started in 2011 and changed its name to Beyond Prisons in 2012. It helps member congregations understand the scope of "mass incarceration" through book groups (eg. "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" and “Just Mercy”) and trainings (eg. CAPPS Aug. 2014 about Presumptive (Smart and Safe) Parole.)
In addition, the group started a Ban the Box campaign with The Proud Fathers' of The Other Way, recruited and trained volunteers for the American Friends Service Committee’s Criminal Justice "Good Neighbor" program, participated in four annual Legislative Education Days in partnership with Citizens for Prison Reform, educated returning citizens about voting rights, and joined the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration and Michigan Power to Thrive, a public initiative that notes the health impacts of incarceration.
Our plans for the coming year are to build awareness and action around the role of the Prosecutor. We want to restorative Justice options so people who are charged with a crime can "make things right."
Our group will build stronger connections with members of our community who are in prison. When people come home from prison, they will engage with to the Micah Center Beyond Prisons Hub - a clearinghouse of services that includes connections to excellent resources that are already in place in our community, and creation of new opportunities, such as trainings in entrepreneurial skills and in citizenship rights and responsibilities.
We will seek to restore justice for those who are facing challenges in finding housing, new social networks, and work that helps them fulfill their God-given purpose in life, advocating with returning citizens for changes to the sex offender registry, and job application.
We especially invite family members of those in prison and jail, and persons who have first-hand experience in "serving time" to join us in the work that is before us.
Some members of our team are Jake Terpstra, Andy Zylstra, Mike Franz, Tim Hoving, Rich Rienstra, Karl Williams, Laurie Piersma, Vince Schumacher, James Jackson, Eunice Jackson, Carol Rienstra, Sr. Mary Brigid Clingman. Many others have expressed interest, and stand ready to step up when there are ways they can do so. To contact the Micah Center Beyond Prisons Advocacy Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com