US Attorney For NJ Receives MLK Service Award At First Baptist Church Of Lincoln Gardens

Fishman award at FBCLG5

U.S. Attorney Paul G. Fishman speaks after receiving the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens.

The U.S. Attorney for New Jersey was honored by a township-based church Jan. 18 for his “impeccable record of meeting the cause of justice.”

Calling him “an advocate for all things right and an enemy to all things unfair,” the Rev. DeForest B. Soaries of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens presented U.S. Attorney Paul G. Fishman with the church’s Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award prior to one of the morning worship services.

“From the moment I met him, I have respected him,” Soaries said to his congregation. “I thought it would be the right thing to do for us to affirm him today. If you are willing to oppose what you don’t like, you have to be willing to support what you do like.”

“Some people have big titles and do small deeds, other people put their title to the side and just fight for justice,” Soaries said. “This man has seen to it that African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, people of varyig sexual orientations have a seat at the table of justice in his office. This U.S. Attorney has seen to it that the Muslim community was not victimized by racial profiling, stigmatized and the victims of discrimination. He has distinguished himself in getting out of his ivory tower and going out aound churches … He is in the community and of the community.”

Fishman said it was “humbling” to receive an award in King’s name.

“It is particularly moving to receive it at First Baptist, a House of God that is know for its extraordinary work in economic development, its dedication to those who are less fortunate and its dedication to Dr. King’s teachings,” Fishman said.

“I stand here today merely as a representative of a group of men and women, lawyers, investigators and support staff of the US Attorney’s office, who go to work every day with a single purpose: to pursue justice,” Fishman said. “It is that spirit, that quest, that need and that calling that drives us, that inspires us and then moves us to do better.”

Fishman said his office is “trying to re-imagine” its role in federal law enforcement. He said he was particularly proud of the nascent prisoner re-entry program, an intensive program designed to reduce recidivism of released federal prisoners.

“More than 95 percent of all prisoners will be released,” he said. “The world they come back to is different, and only if they are really lucky is their a family or a social structure waiting to help them find their way.”

Fishman award at FBCLG1

U.S. Attorney Paul G. Fishman, left, embraces the Rev. DeForest Soaries after being awarded the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens’ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award.

“A staggering number do not succeed,” he said. “Forty percent of federal prisoners return to jail in the first three years. That level of recidivism is unacceptable.”

Fishman said his new program’s first graduation ceremony was held in July 2014 – an event, he said, that was the “single most inspirational experience I have ever had in a federal courtroom” – and that the program will be expanded into Camden in February.

Fishman noted that he has visited countless houses of worship of varying faiths during his tenure as U.S. Attorney, something, he said, he sees as his obligation to do.

“I view it as my obligation to interact as much as I can with community groups, every age, every religion and other groups throughout the state,” he said.

“As Dr. King said, people fail to get along because they fear each other,” Fishman said. “They fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”


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