Home Christian News Once Behind Bars, a Pastor Advocates for Giving Released Prisoners a Clean...

Once Behind Bars, a Pastor Advocates for Giving Released Prisoners a Clean Slate

Among the activities with Jail Ministry, Chancy visits incarcerated people to listen to them and share his life as an example of change. He is one of only a few formerly incarcerated people who joined this activity in the almost 50 years of the organization.

“His life is just so rich with knowledge, experience, compassion and faith that he brings a tremendous amount to the jail and our jail ministry community,” said Keith Cieplicki, the executive director of Jail Ministry. “I see him and his love for people as a tremendous foundation for the future.”

Chancy is also an advocate for the Clean Slate Act, which would seal former incarcerated people’s conviction records in New York state. Criminal records would be sealed three years after the sentence is completed for misdemeanors and seven years after for felonies.

The measure, in some cases with slightly different criteria, is already a law in 10 states, including New Jersey, Connecticut and California.

Chancy spoke at several rallies in Syracuse and in New York’s capital, Albany, to support the campaign.

According to Chancy, the bill would give formerly incarcerated people another chance at life and a fresh start. “The ministry saved me,” he said. “But the byproduct of it is I get to save others through my story.”

Chancy blames himself for his past and regrets making a conscious decision to use valuable time doing harmful things, including hurting people in his criminal activities — “the victims of my foolishness,” he calls them. He rues not being a full-time father to any of his eight children.

“Life is hard,” he said, but if people put themselves in the right positions and around the right people, they can get to wherever they want and be whatever they want. “A lot of times, we’re looking in the wrong places and at the wrong things,” he said. “Hope is there. Put yourself in a position to obtain it.”

This article originally appeared here.