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A Shelby County minister has been chosen to receive an award that will enable him to attend an event close to his heart.
Joey Pusateri, pastor of Simpsonville Christian Church, was named a 2014 Magee Fellow. That entitles him and nine other winners to attend the Kentucky Council of Churches Assembly on Restorative Justice Oct. 24-25.
Pusateri said he made an application for the award at the Lexington Theological Seminary, where he is a student, by composing an essay on his interest in prison ministry and the concept of restorative justice.
“It’s [restorative justice] a way to tackle the massive incarceration problem we have in our country by applying some philosophies of reconciliation between folks,” he said. “Restorative justice practices might include ways to promote reconciliation between victims and perpetrators, for example, as well as focus on rehabilitation instead of purely punitive measures. I’m not sure if there’s any corrections sponsored programs, there might be, but outside organizations could pick up the call to do this work. There are tons of faith-based organizations that work on restorative justice. I’m looking forward to finding out a whole more about it.”
Pusateri said he wants to attend the program because he has an affinity to minister to those who are incarcerated.
“Prison ministry has always been very close to my heart, I don’t know why, I’ve never been locked up,” he said. “I’ve just always been drawn to it.”
Charisse Gillett, president of Lexington Theological Seminary, said that Pusateri is very deserving of the award.
“He is one of our best students and we are very proud of him,” she said. “He really cares for God’s people and he is interested in ministry that changes and transforms people’s lives. We recognize that he has a gift for ministry.”
Pusateri said he wants to learn more about restorative justice because he believes in the concept of more rehabilitation with less emphasis on the punitive.
“People that come out of prison are likely to return because they can’t get jobs because of a felony record,” he said. “Someone who has a drug addiction goes into prison because of crimes related to that and comes out of prison a hardened criminal. We need a more holistic approach, a more ethical, moral, Christian approach.”