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Justice and Redemption: A Vision for Our Criminal Justice System

Justice and Redemption: A Vision for Our Criminal Justice System

The Bible is clear about God's heart for the prisoner. This panel will examine the current U.S. criminal justice system and discuss much-needed reforms.

Panelists include:

Steven Harris, Director of Advocacy, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC)

Steven works with government leaders in the legislative and executive branches to advocate for the ERLC’s position on important issues, while also analyzing legislation and producing content for ERLC outlets. He holds a B.S. in Religion from Vanderbilt University, an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and an M.A. in Religion from Yale University.

Steve McFarland, Chief Legal Officer, World Vision, Inc.

In 30 years of law practice and public service, Mr. McFarland has specialized in the defense of religious liberty. He directed the Center For Law and Religious Freedom of the Christian Legal Society from 1991 through 1999. He also spearheaded the President’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative in the U.S. Department of Justice; was the first executive director of the U.S. Commission On International Religious Freedom; developed programs for prisoners abroad as a vice-president of Prison Fellowship International, and now serves as Chief Legal Officer of World Vision, Inc., a Christian international relief and development ministry serving vulnerable children worldwide.

Patrick D. Purtill, Jr., Director of Legislative Affairs, Faith & Freedom Coalition

In 2011, he joined Gammon & Grange’s nonprofit and exempt organizations practice and government affairs group bringing over twenty years of experience in nonprofit management and federal and state public policy and advocacy to G&G’s clients. Before joining Gammon & Grange, Patrick was appointed by President George W. Bush to positions in the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Justice.

Patrick served as CEO of two Washington-based NGOs: the National Council For Adoption (NCFA) and the Washington Scholarship Fund. Patrick has testified before Congress and state legislatures; served as an NGO Representative to The Hague Conference on Private International Law in the Netherlands; led delegations to the governments of Belarus, Russia, and China; and provided commentary on a host of public policy issues for national broadcasts and newspapers, including ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC’s Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, and USA Today, in addition to many regional and local broadcasts and newspapers.

Heather Rice-Minus, Vice president of Government Affairs, Prison Fellowship

As leader of Prison Fellowship's policy staff, Rice-Minus directs lobbying, research, and legislative campaigns on pivotal criminal justice issues at the state and federal levels. She also spearheads its efforts to build coalitions with advocacy groups, think tanks, faith-based organizations, and other key stakeholders in Washington, D.C.

Rice-Minus has contributed to stories about criminal justice reform in outlets including Slate, CBN News, PBS' Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, and WORLD magazine. She is the co-author of Prison Fellowship's Bible study curriculum, "Outrageous Justice." A valued shaper of the criminal justice reform debate because of her wide-ranging policy expertise, Rice-Minus is also personally vested in justice reform as someone who has both been a victim of crime and walked alongside a family member during his incarceration.

A native of Virginia, Rice-Minus resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter. Prior to her tenure at Prison Fellowship, she managed advocacy efforts on behalf of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. She is a graduate of George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School and Colorado State University. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar.