Criminal Justice

The social statement, “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries,” presents a comprehensive perspective on matters related to the U.S. criminal justice system and the many communities affected by this system. The statement affirms the principles of the U.S. criminal justice system, but also reveals the desperate cries that reflect the system’s serious deficiencies. Drawing from the biblical witness to God’s rich forms of love and justice for all humanity, the ELCA is compelled by a “holy yearning” to address the need for a change in public attitude and posture, and to call for dramatic reforms in policies and practices in the criminal justice system.

A social statement addressing issues in the criminal justice system was mandated by the 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly; subsequently the ELCA Task Force on Criminal Justice issued the proposed statement, “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries.” The statement’s text and its 11 implementing resolutions were reviewed by the Conference of Bishops in March 2013 and the ELCA Church Council in April 2013. It was adopted by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

You can read or download the full social statement on “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries” in English. A Spanish translation is now available.

Social Statement (en)



Social Statement (esp)



Follow these links to find resources for understanding this social statement: