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June 2022

Re-Entry of the Formerly Incarcerated

Individuals re-entering society after incarceration face a multitude of interrelated challenges that can reduce or completely prevent the possibility of successful return to their community. First and foremost is the difficulty that they have finding employment. In addition to lacking the education and skills necessary for many jobs, they are often required to “check the box” on the application indicating that they are a convicted felon. This not only reduces the chances of being hired but often also results in being paid less than those without a record. Without employment, finding housing is nearly impossible. It can also be difficult for them to get government issued IDs, and government services that can alleviate some of the challenges they face are not available to some. Many are navigating these difficulties while trying to reestablish relationships with their families and loved ones. As Christians and United Methodists, we are called to recognize the formerly incarcerated as the children of God that they are and to open our hearts to them. It is our obligation, as fellow children of God, to advocate for policies, processes and systems that will end the legal discrimination that they face and make their transition back into the community simpler and more equitable.


To learn more about the United Methodist stance on criminal justice reform, including helping the formerly incarcerated, please visit and

To learn more about efforts to help the formerly incarcerated in the state of Virginia, please visit, and



“He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:7-12


Lord, we pray for a fresh realization of the compassion You extend to us in Jesus so it will move us to be conduits of the same love and mercy to our brothers and sisters reentering society. We pray that they experience rich relationships that allow them to thrive. We know that You created us to work, to cultivate the earth. We pray that You would break down the walls that keep those returning to their communities from entering that work and provide them with opportunities. God, we take comfort knowing You are a God of justice who upholds us in Your righteous right hand. We ask that You grant wisdom to our country around racial inequities in arrest and sentencing. Lord, we ask You to bring change to broken systems. Jesus, we praise You for the many people who have answered the call to support our formerly incarcerated neighbors. We ask that You provide many more to come alongside them to form mutually transformative relationships. Amen.

For Consideration

1. What short and long-term benefits to the individual and to the community could come from actively assisting the formerly incarcerated readjust after leaving prison?

2. How does advocating for an end to the legal discrimination that prevents the formerly incarcerated from fully integrating back into their communities intersect with what you believe to be your calling in Christ? What is God asking you to do?

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