National Clergy gather for three days to end ‘War on Drugs,’ campaign for criminal justice reform

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Influential advocates, writers join faith-based community to rally
against incarceration, harsh sentencing

 

CHICAGO, IL – Tomorrow, a group of 800 clergy, laypeople and social justice advocates will gather to campaign for criminal justice reform and confront the racial inequities endemic in the American justice system. The event will be held February 9, 2012, at the Drake Hotel, 140 East Walton Place in Chicago, beginning at 11:45 a.m.

Influential justice advocates, Ethan Nadelmann, Michelle Alexander and Susan L. Taylor, will lend their voices to the call for change.

The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) is an annual convening of national faith leaders and their congregations. This year, the conference will focus on the theme, “Reckoning with Power: Destroying Caste and Restoring Community.” The conference will feature a number of noted speakers and events including Wednesday’s luncheon and discussion keynote address led by Drug Policy Alliance Director Ethan Nadelmann, one of the prominent supporters of the federal crack cocaine disparity campaign that resulted reduced sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine – an issue disproportionately affecting African Americans.

Author of “The New Jim Crow,” Michelle Alexander, will join Nadelmann in a conversation on the inner- workings of a criminal justice system, which now makes the U.S. the number one nation in the world for incarceration.   Alexander, who will also sign books, has worked closely with the SDPC throughout the last year in an effort to combat the growing issue and helped the group produce an ecumenical study guide that serves as a companion piece to her book for faith-based organizations and churches. Also joining the program is former Essence Magazine editor Susan L. Taylor, who now leads National Cares Mentoring, a program, designed to aid in ending the prison pipeline of African-American youth.

“The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference is calling for a values transformation and transfusion in America.  It is time to ‘Occupy the Heart’ on the road To Be Free At Last,” said SDPC director, Dr. Iva Carruthers. “This movement has a human rights agenda to not only end mass incarceration in the U.S. but to chart America on a path of true racial and class justice.”   

The conference will also feature numerous workshops on issues on interfaith mobilization, voting, and public policy as hundreds of national theologians, preachers and scholar activists will gather for the ninth annual event.

Founded in 2003, SDPC represents a cross section of progressive African-American faith leaders and their congregations in the United States. Its mission is to nurture, sustain, and mobilize the African American faith community in collaboration with civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to address critical needs of human and social justice within local, national, and global communities.

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