About two years ago as I was headed to a meeting with a newly formed group called Pastors, Prosecutors and Police, it occurred to me that we had nothing on the agenda.
The broad purpose tor forming the group was to pool our resources to do good things for the community. But what? After one previous meeting, it was clear that our well-intentioned mission lacked focus and was a wish badly in need of a plan.
Then it struck me. What problem causes the most headaches for prosecutors, judges and, yes, offenders themselves? If you guessed driving on a license that has been cancelled, suspended or revoked, you are right--and you're probably a prosecutor or a judge!
These cases clog the already-crowded court system, have little to do with public safety, steal valuable time that could be devoted to dangerous felony cases, and keep many citizens from getting back on the right side of the law.
Now, it should be noted, we're talking about drivers whose licenses have been cancelled only because they owe money to some court, child support or other agency. We will never ease up on drunk drivers and vehicle-homicide drivers who get caught behind the wheel illegally.
So, when I raised this topic at the three P's meeting, it was an instant hit and a true group effort began to take shape.
The pastors knew of countless church members with licenses cancelled because they could not pay fines or child support or both. Some were driving illegally--and risking piling up still more fines if caught--while others did not drive, but as a result had no way to get to a job or even to look for one.
After about 45 minutes of brainstorming, the group came up with a plan: five churches around the city would be hosts for the unnamed event where wayward drivers could meet with representatives from various agencies who could help them with a plan to regain their licenses.
In many cases, that included a reduction in child support payments as well as a payment plan to satisfy outstanding fines and court costs. Assistant district attorneys and court clerks also would help citizens understand and navigate the complexities of getting minor criminal offenses expunged. This would be one-stop shopping for those in need.
After several months of planning, the first Restoration Saturday was held in June of 2018 at five churches throughout the city. (Restoration Saturday was chosen by one pastor as the name for the event since it had a more uplifting feel than the more militaristic...