Centerforce Announces a National Summit on Incarceration Slated for San Francisco

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Centerforce is a California-based nonprofit organization that strives to improve the lives and strengthen the communities of incarcerated people and their love ones.

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“[i]deal justice would seem to require that in the rare and unusual instances in which a person who has served the whole or part of a term of imprisonment, is later found to be entirely innocent,” says Attorney General Homer Cummings.

The National Inside/Out Summit on incarceration will focus on “The Faces of Change: People and Strategies That Make a Difference” within the prison system and its impact on communities October 22-25, 2011, at the Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel, Millbrae, CA.

“With a lineup of eminent and engaging keynote speakers, the conference promises to be most lively and informative,” says Carol F. Burton, executive director of Centerforce, the nonprofit agency which has organized the national conference for 11 years.

In examining issues impacting the incarcerated populations and their communities, the Summit brings together public and prison health officials, community organizations, formerly incarcerated individuals, substance abuse and mental health treatment providers, children’s rights advocates and other key constituents in the criminal justice field to meet in open forums, panels and presentations to promote change within their fields, communities and the criminal justice system.

Speakers include:

  •     Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and founding director of the Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South, a professor of political science at Tulane University. She is a frequent contributor on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” and HBO’s “Real time with Bill Maher.”
  •     Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, a leading expert on sentencing policy, race and the criminal justice system, author of Race to Incarcerate, co-editor of Invisible Punishment;
  •     Jeff Henderson, award-winning chef, motivational speaker, New York Times best-selling author of Cooked: My Journey from the Streets to the Stove and Food Network television personality;

Among the topics to be discussed are:

  •     Diverse Strategies for Transforming Urban Medicine
  •     Research and Policy Agenda for Children of Incarcerated Parents
  •     Reentry Councils that Work: Connecting Reentry Councils to Place-Based Community Initiatives
  •     Fathers and Mothers Involved in the Criminal Justice System
  •     Reducing Prison Populations Using Safety Measures-based Initiatives

“Anyone—whether a professional or layman -- concerned about the issues of our prison systems will find the Summit worth attending,” says Burton.
Four prominent contributors to the wellbeing of the justice system will be honored at the Awards Gala. They include:

  •      U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee continues her fight for criminal justice reform she began as a member of the California State Legislature and addresses the plight of people involved in the criminal justice system as a member of the Sentencing and Incarceration Reform Caucus. There she has led the effort to create a comprehensive, bipartisan plan to reform reentry programs, to reinstate the right to vote to ex-offenders and to provide for federal record expungement. Her commitment led to The Second Chance Act, Drug Sentence Reform and Kingpin Trafficking and, especially notable, the JUSTICE Act -- Justice for the Unprotected against Sexually Transmitted Infections among the Confined and Exposed which seeks to provide health and justice for all incarcerated people.
  •     The Honorable Thelton Henderson, federal judge in the Northern District of California, was the first Black civil rights lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice. In that position he investigated the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by the KKK. The award-winning movie "Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson's American Journey", traced his path from his childhood in Watts, CA,, through his career as a civil rights lawyer, judge and federal chief justice. Most significant was his 2005 findings that led to the landmark change in the health care system within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, declaring that overcrowding in California prisons was compromising prisoner health.
  •     Zellerbach Family Foundation has been a vigorous leader in initiating and investing in efforts that address the plight of children and families of the incarcerated. Its support of the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership has led to the creation of the Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights, a tool used throughout the U.S. to impact system change. As a result private and federal funds are now directed toward this fragile population.
  •     Marc Mauer has directed programs on criminal justice policy reform for 30 years, and is the author of widely-cited reports and publications in the field, including Young Black Men and the Criminal Justice System, and the Americans Behind Bars series. His book Race to Incarcerate, was a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1999, was revised in 2006. Often invited to testify before Congress and state legislatures, and interviewed by the major media outlets, he has served as an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University and Payne Theological Seminary, and as a consultant to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National Institute of Justice, and the American Bar Association’s Committee on Race and the Criminal Justice System. Since 2005, he has served as executive director of The Sentencing Project.

The Awards Gala, Sunday, October 23, is hosted by actor, playwright and community activist Ernie Hudson, known for his major supporting role in the movie “The Hand that Rocks the Cradle” and the award-winning HBO series “Oz”.

Centerforce has for more than 30 years provided national leadership with groundbreaking programs for incarcerated people and their loved-ones. The nonprofit agency’s innovative solutions generate transformative experiences during incarceration through health education, family and community programs with the goal of successful re-entry and the reduction of recidivism.

For further information on the National Inside/Out Summit, visit

For press or media contact:
Theodore Palmer
Event Publicist


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