Formerly Incarcerated People’s Western Regional Summit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 9/18/2015
CONTACT – Denise Mewbourne 415-625-7050 (W); 510-967-9821 (cell);                                  denise@prisonerswithchildren.org

LSPClogo-high-resFormerly Incarcerated Community Leaders Host Historic Western Regional Convening
A Discussion Where the Grass Tops and the Grass Roots Meet

(Oakland, CA) – Formerly incarcerated people are convening this Sept. 20-21 to share their expertise on ending mass incarceration, criminalization, and the second-class status of people convicted of misdemeanors or felonies. The Western Regional Conference is being organized by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), All Of Us Or None, and the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement. It will be held at The Oakstop, and over 300 formerly incarcerated people and their families from six western states are expected to attend. Thirty elected officials, federal government Reentry Council members, funders and non-profit directors are also confirmed.

The two-day convening will have panels on Sunday, and a Peace and Justice Summit on Monday. Both days feature formerly incarcerated people and their families speaking as experts on their own lives and on solutions for their communities. Presenters will analyze how structural oppression drives mainstream thinking about formerly incarcerated and convicted people, and how we can challenge and change this thinking.

“What does democracy look like for people who are disenfranchised, who cannot hold public office, and cannot sit on a jury of our peers?” said Dorsey Nunn, executive director of LSPC and co-founder of All Of Us Or None. “These two days will be a rare opportunity for communities heavily impacted by incarceration to share our expertise – our needs, challenges, concerns, and hopes – to people who are representing our interests.”

All Of Us Or None, a grassroots organization fighting for the human and civil rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people, are the originators of the Ban the Box campaign. Ban the Box has built up movement through cities and states, and now has federal momentum. Without legislative protection of this kind, many qualified candidates are turned away from job openings before their application is fully reviewed. So, among other panels, the first day will feature several on Ban the Box-related issues – housing, employment, and education.

The second days’ Peace and Justice Summit centers around panels of formerly incarcerated experts sharing information about our needs before an Active Listening Panel of community and spiritual leaders, government employees, funders, and elected officials. Many of the active listeners are already working to end mass incarceration, and undo its debilitating impact on communities. Here is a partial list of notable people attending to bear witness to formerly incarcerated people’s expertise:

  • Desley Brooks, Oakland City Council
  • Keith Carson, Supervisor, Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 5
  • Karen Connor, Division Chief, Employment & Training Administration, US Dept. of Labor
  • Kimberly Ferguson, Senior Community Planning and Development Representative, US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
  • Dana Johnson, Oakland Office Director, EEOC
  • Karol Mason, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs, US Dept. of Justice
  • Amy Solomon, Director of Policy, Office of Justice Programs, US Dept. of Justice
  • Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, N. CA. ACLU
  • Tirien Steinbach, Executive Director, EBCLC
  • Lul Tesfai, Senior Policy Advisor, US Department of Education
  • Steven Wiener, Administration for Children and Families, US Dept. of Health and Human Services

One active listening participant, Keith Carson (Alameda County Board of Supervisors), says that “It is essential that all levels of the government and our diverse communities recognize the need to eradicate discrimination against individuals who have spent time in correctional institutions or been impacted by the criminal justice system. The protection of the civil, political and the economic rights of the formerly incarcerated is embedded in the founding principles of our nation, and it is the responsibility of those in leadership positions to uphold them.”

“It is absolutely imperative we use every opportunity to talk to each other right now, when the issue of mass incarceration and the broken criminal justice system that produced it are daily public discourse,” Nunn said. “This conference is about collectively advocating for reform at the local and national level for formerly incarcerated or convicted people.

Our event flyer is here, and registration is on Eventbrite.