The Rev. Joe Summers has been a community activist since his teenage years. In high school and college, Joe worked for a more just society by getting involved with efforts such as the anti-war movement, the Catholic Worker movement, and the United Farm Workers movement. Ultimately, his path led him to work for social change through faith communities.
Since 1987, Joe has been the pastor of The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation. The parish’s work with members of our community who’ve been imprisoned has taught Rev. Joe about the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, the problems arising from mass incarceration, and the lack of resources available to people coming out of prison. His work on the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative and Friends of Restorative Justice led him to the Youth Justice Fund.
“YJF is taking a fresh look at what it means to restore people sent to prison in in their youth back into our communities. Michigan has been one of the most punitive states in terms of confining children as young as 12 to adult prisons rather than exploring solutions which could help them become a successful part of society. Not only do the citizens of Michigan pay a higher percentage of our state budget to corrections than most other states, we pay an even higher price in the harm we do to our kids, ourselves, and our communities. Enough of that. Communities have a social responsibility to welcome them home because we are the ones who sent them away.”