FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Speaking Up & Out about Prison Privatization, Mass Incarceration, & Deadly Consequences: Transforming Public Policy Discourse from Criminal Injustice to Restorative Justice
Today, the United States leads the world in incarceration rates, approximately 700 persons per 100,000. This rate is higher than the rate of China, Russia and South Africa during the years of apartheid. The U.S. represents about 4.6% of the global population, yet 22% of the global incarcerated population. The most recent moves towards the privatization of the prison system will have even more dire consequences.
The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC), and partners from around the nation, have been rigorously engaged in a momentous work around dismantling the prison industrial complex. "Our goal is to build a new movement to dismantle our nation's latest system of racial and social control with the ultimate goal of that will not just end mass incarceration, but forge a new moral consensus about how we, as a nation, ought to respond to people of color in the United States and embrace all of humanity," as stated by Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, SDPC General Secretary. "We believe that the faith community, in partnership with others, must send a clear signal that the criminal justice system in the American democracy must adhere to principles of community safety, innocent until proven guilty, rehabilitation and restorative justice. More assuredly, the criminal justice system must also be bound by international standards of human rights."
In response to the compelling call to address the efforts of Corrections Cooperation of America (CCA) to expand privatization of prisons, and the increased entrenchment of injustices within the criminal justice system, The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in partnership with the United Methodist Church and other national partners, have hosted state-specific Hearings in various cities. Since September 13th 2012 five state-wide Justice Commission Hearings have been held across this nation (Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; Huston, Texas; Atlanta; Georgia and Dayton, Ohio). To date, 75 commissioners have heard close to 53 hours of testimony from 80 individuals who represent different glimpses into many of the collateral consequences of mass incarceration.
In June 2013, The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference looks forward to supporting the second Justice Commission Hearing in a rural setting- the Alabama Justice Commission Hearings will be held in Dothan on Thursday June 6th 2013.
At the Alabama Justice Commission Hearings, testimony addressing critical issues and perspectives from the field and faith communities will be heard and documented. The testimony gathered will beintegral to amplifying a human rights and restorative justice lens on public discourse and public policy recommendations impacting the criminal justice system.
Prominent local ministers, theologians and community activists will host the Alabama Justice Commission on Thursday June 6thth (beginning at 8:30 AM, concluding at 5:00 PM) at the The Ordinary People Society, (located at 805 N. Lena/Oates St. Dothan Alabama, 36063 (334) 791-2433 .The list of potential Alabama Commissioners include: Rev. Kenneth Glasgow(T.O.P.S.), Dr. Rueben Warren (Tuskegee University), Dr. Wylin Wilson (Tuskegee University), Pastor Rodney Thornton (Divine Inspirational Ministries), Rev. Dr. Otis B. Head (Mount Calvary Christian Center), Sunny Slaughter (NMotion Consulting of Birmingham), and others to be announced.
Over the remaining Spring and Summer of 2013, SDPC will continue to support the development of state-wide Justice Commission Hearings around the Unites States (in Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia).
As the SDPC Trustees and members are prepared to take action in Washington, DC at the national level of the political districts in America, these state-wide Justice Commission Hearings have been positioned to culminate in one National Justice Commission. The National Justice Commission will host prestigious national officials serving as Commissioners including: Ethan Nadleman (Drug Policy Alliance), Michelle Alexander (Author), Marc Mauer the President (Sentencing Project), Dr. Harold Dean Trulear (Howard University), Rev. Bill Mefford (United Methodist Church- General Board of Church and Society), Dr. Ann Smith (Gamaliel Foundation), Dr. Bernice Powell Jackson (World Council of Churches), Dr. Wilson Goode (Public Private Ventures), Major Neill Franklin (LEAP Law Enforcement Against Prohibitions), Laura Markle Downton (United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society), Rev. Alan Bean (Friends of Justice), Leonard Dunston (National Association of Black Social Workers), Dr. Raymond Winbush (Morgan State University), Gary Flowers (Black Leadership Forum, Inc.), Sharon Latson- Flemister (VITAS Innovative Hospice Care), Alex Friedmann (Prison Legal News) and Atty. James Bell (Burns Institute) .
As a result of the National Justice Commission, a National Report on Mass Incarceration: The People Speak will be compiled in 2013.
Historically, SDPC Trustees have stood by the belief that women and men who are the most impacted by injustices in this nation should no longer be ignored- they must be recognized, they must be heard, and they must be given the opportunity to change public policy. Standing in the legacy of the late Rev. Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor (who served as pastor emeritus of the Abyssinian Baptist Church of New York City, Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University, and President of Virginia Union University), SDPC supports the state-wide Justice Commission Hearings mindful of the voices and concerns for our sisters and brothers who are locked up and locked out of society. SDPC stands firm on the words spoken by Dr. Proctor: "One's ministry is incomplete unless one makes a real effort to bring the congregation into a more mature awareness of what Christ calls us to do in his name among the least of these."