Unlocking Second Chances: Balancing public safety with successful reentry for the 1 in 3 American adults with a criminal record. RSVP

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Unlocking Second Chances: Balancing public safety with successful reentry for the 1 in 3 American adults with a criminal record

G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Attendance will be limited for this function, so your prompt RSVP is very much appreciated.

Over 70 million adults in the U.S. have a criminal record. These individuals face over 44,000 government-imposed barriers to work, housing, education, and civil rights that limit their efforts to become responsible stewards of their families and communities. How can churches, businesses, law enforcement, and policymakers better unlock second chances for Americans who have paid their debt to society?

Please join Prison Fellowship for a conversation about the importance of strategies that protect public safety and promote success for individuals with a criminal record.

Panelists include:

  • Sammy Perez, Director of Grassroots Program, Prison Fellowship
  • Pastor Kenneth Jones, Lead Pastor, Redeemer City Church
  • Matt Martens, Attorney & Author
  • Chelsea Friske, moderator, Director of Policy & Research, Prison Fellowship

Sammy Perez

    Sammy Perez serves Prison Fellowship’s advocacy team by building and mobilizing a network of people passionate about justice that restores. Perez equips Prison Fellowship’s Justice Advocates and Justice Ambassadors in the U.S. to raise awareness about criminal justice reform and improve the criminal justice system through strategies including digital advocacy, constituent lobbying, media engagement, and storytelling. After rediscovering faith in Christ, Perez, who has spent time in prison, overcame his past and began to serve others impacted by crime and incarceration. His writing has been published in Shared Justice and several regional Virginia outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch and NoVa News. Perez was reappointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin to the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Prevention in the Commonwealth.

    Perez graduated from Liberty University with a degree in psychology, specializing in addiction and recovery, and a master's degree in professional counseling. His expertise is focused on organizing and coaching Christians to pursue justice and reentry for people returning from prison. Perez is an adjunct professor at the Catholic University of America and enjoys life with his lovely wife and four children.

    Pastor Kenneth Jones

    Pastor Kenneth grew up to the Northeast of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, Edward, was a World War 2 and Korean War veteran. Advanced in years when Kenneth was born, Edward passed away when Kenneth was eight years old. He is thankful to God for his mother, Yoshiko, who is a passionate woman from Okinawa who demonstrates unconditional love and sacrifice. He attended the University of Maryland at College Park for undergrad and received his Bachelor's in English and later a Masters degree in Education. Kenneth received his theological training through the Bible Training Center for Pastors, and is ordained as a pastor through the Times 12 Network.

    The Spirit of God used Isaiah 61:1-2 to call Pastor Kenneth into ministry. It reads, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to the bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.” Because of this, Kenneth’s hopes for Redeemer City Church are that she would make the name of Jesus famous in our city and neighborhoods. And, he is inspired by stories of redemption, and seeing the power of God manifested in the lives of people.

    He is a big time sports fan and loves the Maryland Terrapins! Outside of this, he enjoys watching the Miami Dolphins, playing golf, sight-seeing, and spending time with friends. He currently lives in Washington D.C with his wife Melissa.

    Matthew Martens

    Matt Martens is a trial lawyer and partner at an international law firm in Washington, DC. He graduated first in his class both at the University of North Carolina School of Law and at Dallas Theological Seminary. Matt has spent the bulk of his more than 27-year legal career practicing criminal law as both a federal prosecutor and as a defense attorney. Early in his career, he served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the U.S. Supreme Court. Matt’s writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Providence, and other outlets, and he is the author of a recent book entitled, Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and named The Gospel Coalition’s Book of the Year by a First-Time Author. Matt has spoken at schools across the country, including Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Columbia University, University of Michigan, Baylor University, University of Georgia, and many others.

    Chelsea Friske, moderator:

    Chelsea Friske serves Prison Fellowship’s advocacy team as the Director of Policy & Research. She oversees the tracking of criminal justice trends at the state and federal levels, the creation of technical writing pieces in support of justice reform campaigns, and the production of resources and events that raise the profile of values-based criminal justice reform.

    Friske is a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law and Bay Path College, where she studied criminal justice and psychology, with a research focus on the experience of children in the courtroom and the treatment of those convicted of sex offenses. She completed internships in probation and police departments during college and gained experience in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Commonwealth Attorney’s Office during and after law school. Friske resides in Roanoke, VA.

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