Started in June 2009, The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. is a resource and research center working towards community revitalization through sentencing and prison reform. The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. sees the focus on sentencing/prison reform, education, rehabilitation, and economic mobility as integral to the quest to end mass incarceration and the School-to-Prison pipeline. This concept is reflected in our three-prong initiative towards ending mass incarceration: Educational campaigns: public forums, research presentations, training and empowerment sessions for “Returning Citizens” (formerly incarcerated individuals); Advocacy: influencing public policy, sentencing laws towards prison reform, and Direct intervention in the lives of “Returning Citizens.” We work with religious and non-religious individuals and organizations to further the goal of criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration in the United States criminal justice system.
The Center for Church and Prison’s goal is strategic solution development and intervention in the high rate of incarceration and recidivism in the United States prison system embodied in what we refer to as the four “Rs”:
- RESPECT: for human dignity in the United States criminal justice systems.
- REFORM: In the sentencing laws and sentencing process towards prison reform and reduction in mass incarceration and the high rate of recidivism.
- REHABILITATION: Emphasis on preventive programs development and treatment: education and skills development for employment possibilities; In-prison emphasis on job readiness programs for adequate reintegration and economic mobility.
- RESTORATION: Post-Prison emphasis on employment, emotional wellness, and job creation. Emphasis on family, community and faith-based organizations support in the restorative process for Returning Citizens towards strategic reduction in mass incarceration, emotional stability for effective reintegration and readjustment to society after prison life.
To further our goals, in 2011, The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. hosted its first job and resource fair under the title: Making Money Beyond CORI (Criminal Record Offender Information) for formerly incarcerated individuals. The fair brought together 750 “Returning Citizens” looking for employment in pursuit of economic mobility. Subsequent job fairs for Returning Citizens have been conducted since then.
Two years ago we hosted our first conference: 2012 Strategic National Conference on Mass Incarceration and Reentry. Keynote speaker was Michelle Alexander, author of the book: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. It was held at Boston University from October 18-20 with other phenomenal speakers from across the country. Our second conference: 2013 Strategic National Conference on Mass Incarceration and the War on Drugs was held from October 3-5 at Boston University School of Law. Speakers include: Activists and Comedian: Dick Gregory, Dr. Boyce Watkins of Your Black World, Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, JD. of: The Drug Policy Alliance, Dr. Umar Johnson, Mr. Neil Franklin of: Law Enforcement Against Drug Prohibition, Dr. Stephanie Bush-Baskette: author-Misguided Justice: The War on Drugs and Incarceration of Black Women, and Dr. Erika Kates: Wellesley Centers for Women. The keynote speaker was Douglas Blackmon: Author-Slavery By Another Name: The Reenslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.
In 2014, we hosted two strategic conferences to target specific individuals and groups in the struggle against mass incarceration: 2014 Clergy and Religious Leaders’ Conference on Mass Incarceration under the theme: Proactive Engagement and Criminal Justice Reform-The Voice of Religion. May 1 to the May 3 in Boston. Keynote speakers included: The Honorable Rev. Dr. Floyd Flake of Greater Allan AME Cathedral of New York, the Rev. Dr. Harold Trulear of Howard University, and the Rev. Dr. Virgil Wood.: 2014 Conference on Holistic Approach to Wellness for Returning Citizens and Community Revitalization under the theme: Information, Inspiration, and Resource Availability: Forward Ever, Backward Never]
Measurable outcomes from these gatherings are reflected in the increased awareness about mass incarceration and its implications on families, community security, emotional wellness, and economic mobility. In addition, there has been an increase in solution development regarding decline in crime and prevention, direct intervention on the part of religious organizations and individuals in helping formerly incarcerated individuals towards economic empowerment and emotional stability. All of our conferences and gatherings have been followed-up with post-conference dialogue sessions, strategic public forums and legislative engagements.
“There are times when guidance as to techniques and strategy is urgent, when counsel, support, and collective direct action are mandatory. But there can never be a substitute for taking personal responsibility for social change. The word ‘personal’ applies both to the individual and the organization-in this instance, the Church.” (Howard Thurman, With Head and Heart, p. 161
Contact us at: Email us at: email@example.com,
Mail us at: The Center for Church and Prison, Inc. P. O. Box 146, Dorchester, MA 02121
Leadership and Partners:
Dr. Rodney Petersen:
Dr. William Tiga Tita
Mr. Kevin Thomas
Mr. Nigel Jordan
Board of Advisors:
- D. J. Smith
- Judge Arthur Burnett
- Retired Superior Court Judge
- Washington DC