Monday, March 10, 2014

Religious Conference on Mass Incarceration

2014 Clergy and Religious Leaders Conference on Mass Incarceration in the United States Criminal Justice System

Theme: Proactive Engagement Toward Criminal Justice Reform
The Voice of Religion
Dates: May 1-3, 2014
Venues: St. John Missionary Baptist Church: Roxbury: Boston-May 1-2
Twelve Baptist Church: Roxbury: Boston-May 3

Clergy and Religious Leaders Conference on Mass Incarceration in the United States Prison System- May 1-3/Boston

The need for more strategic intervention in the issue of mass incarceration and its sociopolitical, economic, existential implications in our communities continue to appear obvious everyday. It is one that calls for a collaborative effort, consistent engagement, and spiritual intervention from religious organizations and individuals. This is a training conference.

This conference is based on a holistic model of socio-religious and proactive engagement in the pursuit of criminal justice reform in light of the cumulative consequences of the war on drugs, unusual sentencing policies, and disproportionate rates of incarceration in the United State criminal justice system. Its holistic focus is based on the following strategies: Proactive engagement of religious and clergy organizations in criminal justice reform in America, Prevention and end to mass incarceration, Rehabilitation and restoration for Returning citizens.

This conference is a collaborative effort with several religious organizations and institutions. It seeks to bring together clergy and religious leaders of every religious organization and denomination. With its focus on interfaith dialogue and strategic solution development and intervention in the high rate of incarceration and recidivism evident in the United States prison system, we endeavor to provide information, inspiration, and resources for religious leaders and organizations to achieve the stated goals and objectives of the conference.

Bringing together pastors, religious leaders, prison ministry experts, faith-based organization leaders, students, etc, to be informed, inspired and motivated in the pursuit of criminal justice reform, preventing and ending mass incarceration. Goals include providing resources for prison ministry development and sustainability, best practices for strategic intervention in the lives of Returning Citizens towards prison prevention, reduction in recidivism, adequate forms of reentry program development, and principles of restorative justice. This conference is open to the public.

The Problem

The United States releases more than 600,000 individuals from its prisons and jails on an annual basis with 50,000 more prisoners admitted than those released. With 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s incarcerated population accounting for over 7.2 million on parole, probation, in jails, in prisons or under some form of correctional supervision. There are over 2.2 million in jails and prisons with Blacks and Hispanics accounting for over 65% of the incarcerated population. Americans are serving more time in prison with over 18 million Americans with felony records that systematically prevent them from sociopolitical and economic mobility. Blacks are only 13% of the United States general population but accounts for the highest number of those in American correctional system with Black men accounting for over 40% of the American prison population.

In Massachusetts, Blacks are 7.9% of the general population but close to 35% of those incarcerated including Black juveniles. Hispanics are 10% of Massachusetts’ general population but close to 30% of the incarcerated population. Blacks and Hispanics are less than 19% of Massachusetts’ general population but over 55% of those incarcerated. Massachusetts releases over 300 individuals annually with a high percentage returning to Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. This disproportionate rate of incarceration in the Massachusetts mirrors the disproportionate rate of racial incarceration in across the United States. Mass incarceration has led to increase in single parenting and dysfunctional family structures, increase in fatherlessness, significant increase in poverty and generational impoverishment, increase in mental illnesses, etc. To employ the phrase commonly used by “prisoner re-entry” experts: “They all come back.” It is time to focus on strategic measures that provide economic sustainability for those returning to our communities from prison to reduce the high rate of recidivism.

  • To educate religious leaders on the role of religion in ending mass incarceration.
  • To provide resources to religious leaders in proactive ways to reduce the high rate of recidivism associated with mass incarceration
  • To educate on faith-based reentry program development and prison-ministry enhancement
  • To empower clergy and religious leaders on proactive strategies to engage in sentencing reform, public policy awareness regarding prison reform.
  • Building coalition across religious, racial, and ethnic lines.
  • Etc           
Keynote speakers include:
Pastor: Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York.
Pastor: Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York.

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