In the Denver community, where Michelle Warren has lived for 23 years, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t been affected by mass incarceration. It was these stories of poverty, misfortune and families torn apart that spurred Warren to launch Locked in Solidarity, a day of action with the Christian Community Development Organization (CCDA) in 2014.
Warren began the nationwide event centered on both prayer and advocacy in order to highlight the injustice of mass incarceration that plagues our country. The United States locks up more people per capita than any other nation, with more than 2.3 million people held in the American criminal justice system.
“Proximity to the pain of the poor is powerful,” says Warren. “It’s hard to walk alongside those impacted without giving voice to change.”
Through Warren’s efforts, lives are being changed and families restored. Locked in Solidarity has grown to include 33 events in 32 cities. The initiative sustains important relationships with public officials as a result of its continuous engagement.
“I couldn’t do this work without my faith,” Warren says. “I would have walked right past the beaten, wounded person without it.” Instead, Warren walks in the direction of progress.
Momentum for criminal justice reform is growing around the nation, but the work is slow. “As Christians we’re supposed to be living for things we can’t see. In 2016 that’s hard,” Warren said.
But, if you want to do the hard work, Warren’s advice is simple: Become proximate. “If you really want to make substantive change, don’t just visit the pain, become proximate. Make a serious investment.” For, as Warren reminds us, Christ says that “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Mt. 10:39).