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Justice & Advocacy

Advocacy Resources

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Healing Communities Training – Lehigh Valley

Monday, April 30th, 2018

Healing Communities

June 23, 2018 (Saturday, 9:00am–4:00pm) – at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethlehem, PA

There are many ways groups and congregations can engage in creative prison and restorative justice ministry, not only inside prison but in churches and communities, too. With scores of inmates being released and returning as citizens every day, the need is urgent for churches to reach out to them–and also to victims–to offer help, hope and restorative healing. A valuable ministry that has seen success nationally is now coming to Pennsylvania to help churches respond to this need. (more…)

End Mass Incarceration – Lehigh Valley

Friday, April 6th, 2018

POWER Northeast – End Mass Incarceration Lehigh Valley working group
meets 2nd and 4th Thursdays each month, 6-8pm at 916 W. Turner St., Allentown. For more details and other events related to Mass Incarceration, see justice.ppjr.org .

Lehigh Valley – End Mass Incarceration

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018
February 8, 2018 (Thursday, 7:00pm) Bethlehem, PA
The Lehigh Valley working group to end mass incarceration is invited to attend the next Lehigh Valley ACLU meeting which will begin with a preview of the ACLU-PA Smart Justice campaign. The meeting will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 424 Center St., Bethlehem PA, in the main fellowship hall on the ground floor. Enter the building from the Wall Street side entrance. (more…)

Resources – April 2016

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

Prison Justice Resources

  • Saturday, May 21, 2016 (10am-12n) Letter-writing to people in prison, and Sheila Clever will speak again on the “Pipeline to Prison Learning Tour” at First Presbyterian Church, Allentown.
  • The Fair Housing Act – Finding a place to live can be difficult for people with arrest records. Now it may be easier for convicted felons to rent a home under the protection of the Fair Housing Act which is being interpreted to include discrimination against returning citizens. See this NPR story for details.

Anti-Racism Resources

  • The 30-min. video excerpt, “RACE – THE POWER OF AN ILLUSION: The Genesis of Discriminatory Housing Policies” is available on Vimeo at: https://vimeo.com/133506632
  • Critical Cultural Competency Workshop – June 11, 2016 (9am-5pm) at Grace Episcopal Church, 108 N. 5th St. For details, contact Kara Bender, 412-513-9648, kara@crossroadsantiracism.org.
    Kara Bender is a national organizer/trainer with Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing & Training (see crossroadsantiracism.org )

Pennsylvania Legislative Redistricting

  • Changing the redistricting process in Pennsylvania requires a Constitutional Amendment. Companion bills SB-484 and HB-1835 would create an impartial, independent citizens redistricting commission with rules ensuring fairness and transparency.
    Fair Districts PA has a petition asking our legislators to pass these constitutional amendments to restore accountable government that is of, by and for the people. (See www.fairdistrictspa.com )

Ecumenical Advocacy Days: “Lift Every Voice! – Racism, Class & Power”

  • April 15-18, 2016 (Fri. evening – Mon.) Washington, DC area

    Legislative ask (2-part):

    • Supporting the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 (S. 1659/H.R. 2867) as a substantial legislative step to restoring and strengthening the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and
    • Defeating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement that deepens inequality and prioritizes corporate interests over both God’s creation and people, especially vulnerable communities in the U.S. and abroad.

    For details, see www.advocacydays.org

The Heart of Justice: follow-up events

Saturday, January 17th, 2015


Feb. 17, 2015 (Tuesday, 7:30pm)
Legislative Prison Justice Committee meeting

— a new Lehigh Valley group that is working on Pennsylvania and U.S. legislative issues related to prisons and the criminal justice system.
Location: Bethlehem,PA (contact Sheila Clever for details).

The Heart of Justice: Decarcerate Pennsylvania

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Decarcerate PA is a growing state-wide movement focused on challenging the public policies that have caused explosive growth of Pennsylvania’s prison population over the past 30 years. A Decarcerate organizing team from Philadelphia led one of the workshops at our Nov. 2013 “Heart of Justice” event, and they returned to Allentown on March 1 and April 5 to begin organizing a Lehigh Valley chapter.

Decarcerate’s work is guided by a three-fold platform which has been endorsed by more than 100 Pennsylvania organizations: (more…)

The Heart of Justice: Faces of the Prisoner*

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Stereotypes of who is most likely to be stopped, arrested or in prison were explored through the use of photos representing African Americans, Hispanics, European Americans, male and female. None of the persons in the photographs were known to have ever been arrested. The photos of African American and Hispanic males were considered most likely to have been incarcerated. (more…)

The Heart of Justice: Prison Life in Pennsylvania

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Rev. Michael Comick, Chaplain at a prison in central Pennsylvania, led a workshop on “the life of prison inmates and family communications” at the Heart of Justice event in November 2013. This is a workshop report by Janet Ney.

Michael led us through a description of a day in the life of a prisoner incarcerated at the prison, a facility that was built to house 1,500 prisoners. Currently, this prison houses 2,300 prisoners, including 750 people serving life sentences. Among the prisoners are 120 young people, 21 years old or younger. Medical attention is provided by a staff nurse who may need to see 50 inmates in an hour.

One of Michael’s basic points was that prisons do not rehabilitate. (more…)

The Heart of Justice: Retribution or Restoration?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
“He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives … to let the oppressed go free.” Luke 4:18
“I was in prison and you visited me …” Matt. 25:36

About 85 people gathered November 9 at the Sacred Heart Hospital Conference Center for conversation about the state of Pennsylvania’s “criminal justice” system and its implications for Allentown and the Lehigh Valley. In Pennsylvania, “criminal justice” has become a euphemism for Commonwealth policies that have produced an exploding prison population. The state’s share of funding for basic public education and related social services has been progressively reduced for many years while the state prison system has been rapidly expanding – an increase of more than 500% in the (more…)

Resources for Basic Education on
the “Prison Industrial Complex”

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

  • Local groups may contact us (justice@ppjr.org) to reserve our DVD copy of the documentary “Broken on All Sides,” licensed for public showing. Please plan to allow time for group discussion following the film which runs about 68 minutes.
  • For a reading group, consider either of the books, The New Jim Crow, by Michele Alexander (2010), or Lockdown America: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis, by Christian Parenti (2008). Spend several sessions in discussion as the group reads through either book.
  • What do you know about our prisons, jails, and the judicial system? Even many people who have served on juries have never been inside a jail or prison. Do you know people who have been incarcerated? Can we help make the connection?
  • See justice.ppjr.org for additional resources.