Unless you’ve been a victim of crime, the criminal justice system is something you likely don’t think about much. And yet it is badly in need of reform. Even President Trump has recognized this in some recent meetings he has had in the White House.
My friend Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. has advocated for prison reform, partly because the number of black people incarcerated is a large percentage of the prison population—a much higher rate than the population as a whole.
It is well-known that conditions in prisons aren’t good. And though those who are incarcerated are not usually very nice people, they must be treated humanely. We have ethics and laws to follow.
Sadly, my own state of Florida reportedly has some of the worst prisons in the country. There have long been accusations of abuse in the form of guards hurling racial epithets at black or minority prisoners and even sometimes beatings and other cruel forms of punishment. Recently, allegations arose that several inmates who died unexpectedly were killed by guards.
One of our Florida state legislators is investigating these charges and demanding judicial reform. Her name is Apostle Kimberly Daniels, and she pastors a wonderful church in Jacksonville, Florida. She has become a good friend, and our Charisma audience knows her well, since we’ve written about her ministry for many years. Charisma House has published 23 books by Kim, including Breaking the Power of Familiar Spirits, which comes out this June. She has spoken at our past conferences and will speak at our upcoming conference in June.
A few years ago, she says, she felt led by the Lord to run for the city council in Jacksonville, Florida. She served one term, then lost. But that loss opened the door for her to run for a seat in the legislature, to which she was elected in 2016.
The law gives legislators in Florida the right to visit any prison unannounced, which she has done several times. While there, inmates have begged her to help change the inhumane treatment and even told her guards had killed inmates.
I am very proud of Kim for speaking up. I admire the stand she’s taking. I know she’s under enormous pressure from those who don’t want this kind of injustice exposed.
Even though prison reform is not normally the kind of topic we cover in Charisma—where we focus more on spiritual items or even news from the religious community—I believe the biblical directive to help the poor and those who are unjustly treated is something we need to write about. Jesus said that even if we visit someone in prison, we are doing it unto Him.
Recently, I recorded a podcast with Kim as part of my effort to get some of these allegations on the record. Some of them sound so crazy it’s almost difficult to believe they’re true. But Kim insists they are, and she is going through the proper channels to get these wrongs corrected.
Please take time to listen to the podcast. Educate yourself about the need for prison reform, and let’s allow the church’s response to these alleged injustices be a witness to the world that we are interested in more things than religious freedom, pro-life causes and traditional marriage.