FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 19, 2018
CONTACT: Lola Vinson, Faith in Texas
Dallas District Attorney Candidates, Faith Leaders Tour Prison and Discuss Criminal Justice Reform
Faith in Texas led “God in Chains” visit to Sanders Estes, underscored the DA’s role in reducing prison populations
DALLAS - The candidates for Dallas District Attorney toured the Sanders Estes prison with local faith leaders and discussed the need to reduce Texas’ alarmingly high prison population and reform the county’s criminal justice system. The “God in Chains” tour was hosted by members of Faith in Texas, a multi-racial, multi-faith movement for economic and racial justice. The clergy called on DA candidates John Creuzot and Faith Johnson to support criminal justice reforms that would reduce Dallas’ prison population and move away from policies that disproportionately hurt black and brown communities.
“Too often, we forget about our brothers and sisters that are shipped off to be warehoused in prisons at alarmingly high rates,” said Faith in Texas Clergy Table Leader Jaime Kowlessar. “Our clergy decided to immerse ourselves in this culture in order to better educate ourselves and prepare to more relentlessly advocate for fairness, justice and equality for all.”
Dallas County’s over-reliance on incarceration and harsh punishment exacts enormous financial, emotional, and social costs on people of color while making communities less safe. Texas has the seventh highest incarceration rate in the country and incarcerates more people than any other state, according to an analysis by the Prison Policy Institute. Even worse, Dallas County incarcerates people at a rate that outstrips both the United States national average and Texas as a whole. Across the state, Black people are incarcerated at nearly four times the rate that white people are incarcerated. So, although they are only 12% of the population, Black people make up 32% of Texas’ incarcerated population.
On the tour, the Faith in Texas clergy underscored that District Attorneys hold immense power at each stage of criminal proceedings—from charging decisions to the sentences they seek—and wield profound influence as civic leaders and policymakers. The greatest power to confront police brutality and stop the cycle of mass incarceration does not lie with our attorneys general, governor, senators or even our mayors. The power lies with our local prosecutors. By electing reform-minded DAs, Dallas can transform its criminal justice system. The candidates agreed to come back together in August to debrief and have a more in-depth conversation about concrete reform plans.
Photos of the tour are available here.
Faith in Texas members on the tour included:
Rev. Dr. Jaime Kowlessar, City Temple SDA Church
Manda Adams, First Community United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Kwesi Kamau, Impact Church
Rev. Stephen Brown, Greater Bethlehem Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Mike Gregg, Royal Lane Baptist Church
Rabbi Kimberly Herzog-Cohen, Temple Emanu-El