Criminal Justice Ministries with EMO

"I was in prison and you visited me." Matthew 25:36b
"We are all worth more than the worst thing we have ever done in our life." Sister Helen Prejean

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon continues its long-standing endeavor to work for justice in our legal system, from criminal justice reform, direct service to those impacted by incarceration, and restorative justice for victims, offenders, and community.  We seek to build a network of faith and community partners who approach the legal system with a restorative justice lens—empowering and equipping the community to help persons impacted by the criminal justice system, including offenders, victims, staff and their families.

What does "community" really mean?

Our goal is to prevent, end, and help healing from crime and violence. We start with the perhaps radical notion that people whose lives are impacted by crime, violence, and the legal system are part of our community. People who have committed crimes, victims and survivors of crime, professionals in the legal system, and the loved ones of all these people are part of our community. We all must be involved in contributing toward "public safety"—and defining what that means for us, and the values that should drive our approaches to public safety.  Our ultimate goal is restoring relationship, that all may have a safe, appropriate place in the community. We engage diverse partners for lasting collaboration toward our shared goals of justice, healing and shalom.

Communities Restoring Justice

Restorative justice is a movement that recognizes healing is a process that continues beyond the courts and corrections. We are a member of the Restorative Justice Coalition of Oregon (RJCO).

Community volunteers can help a person in the legal system deepen social, emotional and spiritual health, increasing their long-term stability. By offering practice in pro-social relationship-building, reentry mentorship is effective as it helps address one of the top criminogenic needs in reentry, that of positive peers and associates. Volunteers choosing to invest their time and energy demonstrate their commitment to building a place for every member of the community—for good.

Faith & Family Connections

We seek to help faith communities walk alongside individuals' families through incarceration and reentry. We seek to honor the important role family members, especially children, play as they feel the impact of incarceration from both inside and outside.

Dive deep into the ways incarceration impacts families, through this slideshow prepared for EMO by Portland State University students as part of their senior capstone class for Prof. DeEtte Beghtol Waleed. Watch a short, powerful video in which a woman shares her experiences growing up with a father being arrested and serving a prison sentence. Buckingham, Ispas, Metz, et al. "Incarcerated Women and Drug-Related Charges." Presented at Portland State University, Portland, Ore.; Nov. 28, 2016. 

Policy, Education & Reform

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is committed to long-term social good, offering events for individuals and congregations to learn, advocate and serve. You can get started in educating yourself, or finding resources to help educate your faith community, by reading our Criminal Justice Sabbath resource guide, and hosting a Criminal Justice Sabbath with your congregation.

Our signature annual justice-related event is Hearing the Cries for Justice—a summit bringing together people of faith committed to prison ministries, criminal justice reform and support to survivors. Criminal justice issues are also an essential part of our events such as Interfaith Advocacy Day and the Collins Lectures, public policy engagement and interfaith dialogue.

Learn more about the criminal justice system in Oregon and restorative justice approaches to healing on our Educational Resources page.