Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Religion vs. Mass Incarceration, May 1-3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        April 30, 2014   
Contact: Tel: 617-599-5091 

Clergy and Religious Leaders’ Conference on Mass Incarceration in the United States’ Prison System

Theme: Proactive Engagement towards Criminal Justice Reform:
The Voice of Religion

(Boston, MA) –The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. will welcome participants at The Clergy and Religious Leaders’ Conference on Mass Incarceration in the United States Prison System- May 1-3 at Saint John Missionary Baptist Church in Roxbury under the theme: Proactive Engagement towards Criminal Justice ReformThe Voice of Religion.

Conference organizers will welcome national and local leaders including pastors and religious leaders, prison reform experts and advocates, former prisoners, prison chaplains, social activists, students, and policy makers to address issues of mass incarceration and its cumulative consequences, reentry and prison ministry development, the role of The Church and religious groups in pursuing adequate forms of criminal justice reform, sentencing reform, and alternatives to incarceration.

Former Congressman: Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake of Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York will kick the conference off at 6p.m. Thursday, May 1. This will be followed by two conference keynote speakers “The Urban Prophet”: Pastor Clenard Childress of New Jersey speaking at 6pm on Friday May 2, and Presiding Prelate of Revival Deliverance Edification Center Churches of Massachusetts/Rhode Island Bishop Jenneifer Hightower on Saturday May 3 at 6pm. The conference will consist of general and breakout sessions, panel discussions, keynote addresses, and empowerment, worship services in the evenings.

The general and breakout sessions include both national and local speakers: Howard University Professor Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear, Founder/Executive Director of Straight Ahead Ministries Dr. Scott Larson, Civil Rights Activist and Author, Rev. Dr. Virgil Wood, Founder of The New Jubilee Family Life Center Richmond /VA Rev. Dr. Owens Cardwell, Vice Mayor of the City of Cambridge Mr. Dennis Benzan, Esq, Associate Justice Judge Leslie Harris, State Senator of Massachusetts Sonia Chang-Diaz, Founder/President of National Gang Council Andre Norman, Hon. Dianne Wilkerson, Pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church- Rev. Miniard Culpepper, Pastor of Greater Love Tabernacle Rev. William Dickerson,  President of The NAACP Boston Mr. Michael Curry, Esq, President of The Black Ministerial Alliance and Pastor of Historic Charles Street AME Church, Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover, Sheriff: Suffolk County House of Correction: Sheriff Steve Tompkins, and Rev. Laura Ahart of  United Baptist Church.

This conference will consist of nearly 20 workshops ranging in a variety of topics including: “Teaching The Church how to work with formerly incarcerated individuals,” “Defining Reentry and Prison ministry from the perspectives of Returning Citizens.” “What is happening to our communities? -Poverty, Violence and Mass incarceration: The Quest for solution.” “Pastoral care and pastoral sensitivity: Understanding and ministering to congregations under the system of mass incarceration,” “The Church as a Healing Center: Strengthening relationships during and after incarceration,” “Reaching the youths before juvenile detention and incarceration: Lessons from a former gang member,” and “Mobilizing congregations to advocacy and coalition building: A movement against mass incarceration and the systems of The New Jim Crow.”

“Our goal for this conference is to provide information, inspiration, and resources to churches, faith-based organizations, and community leaders with the focus towards strategic intervention in the high rate of incarceration and recidivism in the American criminal justice system, said Rev. George Walters-Sleyon, founder of The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. “Hosting this conference is a way for us to equip, empower and encourage others to do this important work on sentencing and prison reform, rehabilitation and adequate reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals. We believe The Church of America, like the Civil Rights movement, has the potential to end the mass incarceration of human beings in the American criminal justice system” he said.

The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. has partnered with a number of groups and organizations, including The Boston Theological Institute, The Boston Foundation, St. Paul AME Church of Cambridge, St. Susanna Parish-Dedham, Historic Charles St. AME Church, Greater Love Tabernacle, Bethel AME Church, Grace Church of All Nations, Straight Ahead Ministries, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Touch 106.1 FM, Boston Praise Radio, Union Baptist Church of Cambridge, United Baptist Church, Roxbury Presbyterian Church, Historic Charles St. AME Church, and St. John Missionary Baptist Church.

A complete schedule is located at  For media interviews with any participants, please contact The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. 

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

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