The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the American Friends Service Committee, and the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow are partnering with four Sussex County organizations to hold a Solitary Confinement Awareness Conference in Sparta on Saturday, Nov. 7. The conference will take place at Sparta United Methodist Church between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Local co-sponsors include the Church and Society Committee of Sparta United Methodist Church, the Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community of Sparta, the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sussex County, and NAMI Sussex. The conference is open to the public free of charge, but pre-registration is requested.
New Jersey state senator Ray Lesniak, sponsor of the legislation concerning solitary confinement, will attend the conference at 11:00 am. He will address the audience briefly and take questions.
Conference attendees will learn about the damage solitary confinement in U.S. jails and prisons inflicts on individual prisoners and on our society as a whole. A powerful video entitled "Breaking Down the Box," provided by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, can be viewed at 10:00 a.m. or 1:00 p.m.
The Campaign to End the New Jim Crow Princeton and Trenton Chapters are providing a life-size replica of a solitary confinement cell, which will be open to the public between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Those stepping inside to experience the cell's dimensions will be invited to imagine what long-term isolation might be like.
At 11:00 a.m., former prisoner Ojore Lutalo will display and explain his collage artwork, which helped him survive 22 years of solitary confinement.
A panel presentation will begin at 11:15, featuring Amos Caley of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Bonnie Kerness of the American Friends Service Committee, Rev. Craig Hirshberg, Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey (UULMNJ), and Keith McNeil, who served 30 years of prison time, 10 of which were in solitary confinement. Information about current proposed legislation in New Jersey to limit solitary confinement, including petitions and letters to send to elected officials at the State and National levels, will be available.
Following the panel presentation and Q & A with the audience, a light lunch will be provided.
Walk-in registration will be allowed, but anyone wishing to attend the conference is encouraged to register in advance by calling 973-986-8087 or registering online through Eventbrite at https://solitary-confinement-conference.eventbrite.com.
For more information, click here.
71 Sparta Ave
Sparta, NJ 07871
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