11th ANNUAL CONFERENCE
OCTOBER 16, 17 & 18, 2019 DALLAS, TEXAS
Like most conferences, this one features dynamic knowledgeable speakers and provides opportunities to learn best practice approaches and exchange creative ideas, but it is so much more. It offers such amazing opportunities to network and receive and provide encouragement and support that it has even been described as “magical!” However, the “magical” part of this conference is intangible and cannot be fully understood without actually being there. But here are some of the tangible highlights:
Families – The conference offers prison family members the opportunity to meet and share with other family members experiencing similar concerns. Participants build many lasting friendships for on-going support and encouragement.
InterNational Experts – Participate in the largest international conference specifically addressing issues relevant to all prison families. Learn from the private and public, secular and faith based sectors, including criminal justice; social service; academia; ministry and others serving the prisoner and their family and from prison family members themselves, including successfully reintegrated former prisoners.
One on One Meetings – You will have ample opportunity to meet and share ideas and information with other attendees from various non-profits, federal, state and local agencies and faith-based organizations, as well as members of prison families from across the country and even internationally. This allows for discussion of potential collaborations; many powerful unions have resulted from these informal meetings.
Exhibitors Showcase – Speakers, attendees and sponsors showcase services and offer resource materials and literature. This event engages a wide variety of secular and faith-based organizations serving prisoners, family members and experts in the field and all generously share helpful information.
Prisoners Fine Art Display & Silent Auction – Attendees have the opportunity to vote on the winners of the annual conference prisoners’ creative arts competition, as well as to view the exceptional works of artists behind bars. The small art works are available for silent auction, and winning attendees will take home a lovely memory of the conference.
Social Networking – Social networking will help you connect with many participants prior to and following the conference by simply “liking” the Prisoner’s Family Conference Facebook page. You may also follow us on Twitter by connecting with #PrisonersFC.
Advocacy Participation – The conference Advocacy in Action Coalition meetings offer those with significant concerns about criminal justice at any and all levels the opportunity to engage in actively advocating for needed reforms. Uniting to voice concerns strengthens each individual voice and possibilities for change.
International Network for Children with Incarcerated Parents – Meet with caring individuals from around the world, working to improve the conditions for children having incarcerated parents.
Professionals– Those employed throughout the criminal justice system, as well as college and university students preparing for careers that will place them in contact with prisoners and prison family members have a special opportunities for facilitated discussion and meetings with those most directly impacted by the criminal justice system.
THE NEED FOR A PRISON FAMILY CONFERENCE
The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world. With only 5% of the world’s population the U.S. incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners. Incarceration is not about rehabilitation in the United States; it has become an enormous lucrative business. Forgotten in the quest to build this prison industrial complex are the more than 2.5 million people the country incarcerates, as well as an equal number of their children and countless family members and friends of prisoners traumatized by a loved one’s incarceration.
History tells us that 70% of children of prisoners will one day become prisoners themselves and at least 65% of prisoners returning to our communities will recidivate within 3 years (76% within 5 years) of being released from prison. These unacceptable and tragic facts diminish the quality of life and safety of our communities for all of us and call for effective resolution.
Credible research finds that strong family support during and following a loved one’s incarceration is crucial to the prisoner’s successful community reentry and family reunification. We need resources to strengthen prison families and their support systems. The conference provides those resources.
THE CONFERENCE GOAL
The conference goal is to strengthen the entire prison family and promote successful reentry and reunification, reducing the rate of recidivism by providing critical connections, information and resources for families and secular and faith based organizations serving prisoners and their families.
THE CONFERENCE MISSION IS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL OF US BY STRENGTHENING PRISON FAMILIES THROUGH INCREASED AWARENESS, EDUCATION, RESOURCES, NETWORKING, SUPPORT SERVICES TO PROMOTE POSITIVE RELATIONS THAT REDUCE THE TRAUMA AND RISKS CREATED BY INCARCERATION.
MESSAGE FROM THE CONFERENCE CHAIR: The family is the greatest resource for prisoners. Credible research indicates strong family support during and following incarceration is crucial to prisoners’ successful community re-entry and family reunification. The conference provides powerful resources for strengthening the prison family and improving its relationship with the criminal justice system by bringing together those with a sincere desire to improve the quality of life of those touched by incarceration. In reality, families are secondary victims of crimes, yet historically they have received little, if any support. As a result prison family members typically withdraw and isolate from the mainstream community, suffering alone in silence as a hidden population. There they remain as a hidden sub-culture of our society often shunned with as much disdain as the prisoner.
We must change this perspective; we must bring hope where there is none. It is the responsibility of those who know the trauma created by incarceration of a loved one to bring awareness where none exists. To that end this conference brings together diverse individuals and organizations serving many diverse purposes on behalf of prisoners and their families. Yet with all the diversity each entity represented has the singular purpose: improving the quality of life for all prison family members.
The InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conferences offers those with genuine concerns for prisoners and their families world-wide an opportunity to unite, to educate the uninformed; to build best practice programs; to improve relations with the criminal justice system and to advocate on behalf of the prison family.
Together we will encourage one another and we will generate a much greater impact than we could ever accomplish by going the course alone. We hope you will join us at the next InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference. We promise you will be enriched by the experience.
Carolyn Esparza, Conference Originator and Chair