South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) admitted over the weekend one major Christian ministry is doing an overwhelmingly better job than the federal government at keeping people out of prison.
The Republican lawmaker praised televangelist T.D. Jakes’ church, The Potter’s House in Dallas, for its Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative (TORI), which has helped more than 20,000 former inmates across the Lone Star state obtain housing, health care, employment and education.
Scott was the keynote speaker during Sunday’s graduation ceremony. Early in his speech, he praised Jakes and those who helped develop TORI for creating a structure that “has produced results that are the envy of other states.”
“This is a national model,” the senator said. “This ain’t playing church; this is doing church. And doing church means walking out the doors and letting the people of God — the church — get to work.”
The 53-year-old politician revealed that, on a national level, the rate of recidivism, meaning the percentage of people who get out of prison and ultimately go back, is a whopping 77 percent. In other words, more than three out of four former inmates go back to prison within five years of their initial release.
However, the rate of recidivism for TORI graduates is a stunning 11 percent.
“That’s unheard of,” Scott said. “[C]an you imagine what would happen if we had enough investors and judges and sheriffs and police chiefs and DAs and Bishop Jakes all around the country taking the 77 and bringing it to 11? That’s how you make the community safer.”
The senator went on to tell the crowd it was because of programs like TORI that he was excited to co-sponsor the First Step Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law last December.
The bipartisan legislation expanded vocational and rehabilitative programs aimed at reducing recidivism. It also increased inmates’ opportunities to qualify for early release programs and modified sentencing statutes, easing mandatory minimum laws and restricting the practice of stacking gun charges against drug offenders in order to potentially add decades to prison sentences.
“If we can do this everywhere, young people who come home, they don’t re-offend,” Scott said of the First Step Act. “If they don’t re-offend, they’re not committing crimes. If they’re not committing crimes, the community’s safer.”
What else did Scott say?
During his address Sunday, Scott turned to the Bible to encourage the audience at The Potter’s House, driving home the point that none of us is perfect and all of us fall short, whether we’ve been in prison or not.
“That is why, in Romans 7:24, God reminds us that we are able to do some wicked things. In Jeremiah 17, he says, ‘Don’t trust your heart: it’s full of wickedness,’” Scott explained. “You see, we could all be sitting in green [pointing to TORI graduates] had it not been [for God]. You see, we are you, and that is why we celebrate you this day.”
He went on to encourage the congregation to remember Romans 8:1, in which the Apostle Paul wrote: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
“For those who walk not after the flesh, but we have found a way to get into the Spirit. And with that transformation, we are made new,” Scott said. “And I thank God that his mercies are new every day, because I need Him every day. I need a living Savior, who meets me in the morning and walks with me through the day. And in the evening time, He is still there with me.”