In an effort to break the cycle of recidivism, the Goldring Re-entry Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, will host “Breaking Down Walls: Intersections of Mass Incarceration and Its Implications,” Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the International House, 3701 Chestnut St. It is free and open to the public.
“Breaking Down Walls” invites those who have been impacted by the criminal-justice system in some way. It features a resource fair with nearly 40 advocacy and service-providing agencies to help those who have been incarcerated and their loved ones. The event also welcomes anyone interested in reducing recidivism, including community members, students, researchers and activists.
“Because the event aims to create conversations among groups and disciplines that do not traditionally interact, the vendors at the resource fair are not limited to criminal justice-specific organizations,” Erica Zaveloff, a coordinator for the Initiative and second-year social-work student in the School of Social Policy & Practice, said. Other vendors include community-development agencies and organizations that address social problems that often go hand in hand with incarceration, such as drug addiction, mental-health issues, homelessness, lack of employment opportunities and the role of transitional or re-entry programs.
Opening remarks will be delivered by Glenn Martin of The Fortune Society. Marc Lamont Hill will deliver the keynote address in the afternoon, and throughout the day three panel discussions will address various criminal justice-related issues.
“Because the event looks at causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration, we’re hoping people leave with the motivation and understanding of concrete ways to push back against those systems,” Nancy Franke, a GRI event co-coordinator and second-year social-work student, said. “The high economic and social costs of large prison populations impact all of our communities.”
Since the program’s inception in 2011, the Goldring Re-entry Initiative has worked with nearly 150 clients from eight Philadelphia Prison System facilities.
The social-work students coordinate with officials from the Department of Corrections to provide holistic assessments and develop comprehensive service plans, which include identifying and developing community resources to enable successful re-entry.