Hundreds of nonviolent offenders flooded to famed pastor Joel Osteen’s church over the weekend in search of a second chance.
The “Make It Right!” event was held at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on Saturday, with 5,000 people being invited to come and settle pending legal charges waged against them; 400 people reportedly took officials up on that offer.
The effort not only allowed people who have nonviolent and low-level charges against them in two precincts in Harris County to get those legal debts settled — offenses such as public intoxication, theft of under $100, criminal mischief and other infractions — but members of the public were also invited for free legal advice on issues including immigration and child support, KTRK-TV reported.
Osteen’s church agreed to host the event after a request from Harris County Commissioners and the local district attorney’s office, with Lakewood Church’s general counsel Regan Vansteenis saying that the house of worship agreed to do so because it believes “in second chances,” the Christian Post reported.
“The event offered attendees an alternative to appearing in court for low-level, nonviolent misdemeanor offenses,” Vansteenis told the outlet. “The event also offered a legal resource clinic with a team of volunteer attorneys and members from the Harris County Public Defender’s Office offering free legal advice to the attendees.”
There was also a resource fair that offered educational options as well as job training information. And with that in mind, Harris County’s Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Elli echoed Vansteenis’ sentiments about the importance of the event.
“This is a great opportunity for thousands of people to resolve their outstanding warrants and make a new start,” Rodney Elli, Harris County’s Precinct 1 Commissioner, said in a statement. “This event also benefits law enforcement agencies by allowing them to clear warrants without the expense and risks involved in arresting people on minor offenses.”
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