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Overview of the Strategic National Conference on Mass Incarceration and Reentry

Laurie Taymor-BerryI was blown away by the incredible array of speakers, panelists and workshop facilitators who blessed us with their time, wisdom and insights during the Strategic National Conference on Mass Incarceration and Reentry which took place at Boston University Law School from October 18th to 20th.

The conference began, Thursday evening, with a wakeup call from Michelle Alexander, author of the “New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The Boston University Law School auditorium was packed. I am speaking for myself, but I believe there were many of us, in the audience, who were hungry for some ideas and solutions to reversing the frightening trend, brought on by the “War on Drugs” that threatens the lives of so many of our nations vulnerable youth of color.

Over the course of the next two and a half day conference, participants took part in more than twenty-five workshops and panels dealing with just about every aspect of the criminal injustice system regarding policies designed to target a large sector of the black and brown youth in America in order to fuel the needs of the growing prison industrial complex.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided to the participants making it even more enjoyable for those who remained until the closing ceremony with Joe Madison, a renowned civil rights activist, journalist and television commentator..  His closing remarks were a chilling reminder that we are taking on an insatiable,giant industry that is dependent on mass incarceration to sustain,

I was delighted to learn about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an organization comprised of criminal justice professionals speaking out against the “War on Drugs”.

The final workshop I attended, with Robin Casarjian, author of “Houses of Healing”, reminded me, above all else, that people who make up the mass incarcerated are more than mere statistics.


The Strategic National Conference on Mass Incarceration and Reentry was pulled together, predominantly, by Rev. George Walters-Sleyon from the Center for Church and Prison.  It was his vision, passion and determination which brought many of us together in order to highlight the devastation of mass incarceration on individuals, families and communities across the country.

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