The Transition Task Force would like to highlight this report on the recent Mass Incarceration Conference. Please read and comment as you would like. Again, we are hoping this blog will generation conversation outside of our Presbytery meetings.
The Mass Incarceration Conference sponsored by the Mission Coordination and Social Witness Committee (MC&SWC) was held on Saturday November 21, 2015 at the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville. About 85 people attended the all-day session. 40% of those attending were from 11 PNB churches. Others came from religious institutions and organizations involved in advocating for incarceration reform and/or providing services to those affected.
The conference focused on the issues and needs in three areas:
- Pre-incarceration: the school to prison pipeline; legislation and sentencing guidelines; prosecutor and police procedures.
- Incarceration – what actually happens in prison: education and rehabilitation; the abuses of solitary confinement; impact on families.
- Post-incarceration – issues on reentry to society: housing; employment; family; counseling and other areas of support.
In the morning, the attendees were treated to outstanding speakers. They were committed, knowledgeable, experienced, and passionate and provided many ideas for action.
In the afternoon, attendees chose workshops on one of the three phases of incarceration. Experts provided more information and ideas.
At the end of the day, the attendees left with more information, connections and a commitment to address mass incarceration through advocacy and providing help to those affected.
In order to take advantage of the energy and commitments made at the conference, the MC&SWC has established the Mass Incarceration Task Force. The membership of the Task Force will be made up of the conference organizing committee with the addition of individuals who have a commitment to the effort and are willing to serve. The Task Force’s main thrust will be to encourage and provide information and resources to congregations so they can support existing organizations and programs. If gaps in coverage are identified, the TF will consider establishing appropriate initiatives to fill these gaps. The TF is currently compiling an inventory of existing programs from providers and prisons and jails.
If you, personally, or as a congregation are interested in becoming involved or just want more information, please contact Bill Wakefield (firstname.lastname@example.org), the current Chair of the Task Force.