The first-ever Prisoner’s Family Conference was held in El Paso, Texas in February 2009. With attendees from across the country it was considered a resounding success. Subsequent conferences have expanded and confirmed the widespread interest in the prison family. With consistent interest from abroad bringing international attendees and presenters to the conference since 2013, the conference officially became InterNational in 2015.
Conferences have been held in Orlando, Florida, Portland, Oregon, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Houston, Texas and finally Dallas, Texas where we believe we have found a “home” for the conference.
In 2012 conference attendees initiated an active role in advocacy on behalf of the prison family with a coalition of attendees drafting the first-ever Prison Family Bill of Rights to be used as a talking points and advocacy tool on behalf of the prison family.
With strong interest shown in advocacy on behalf of the prison family, in 2012 the conference host organization, Community Solutions of El Paso launched Prisoner’s Family & Friends (PFFUnited), a project providing honest information, practical services and advocacy for the challenges of the prison family journey. PFFUnited initiated a national campaign to repeal the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) surreptitiously passed by Congress in 1996 making the filing of federal writs in attacking unjust convictions a virtual impossibility. The “Repeal AEDPA” effort was later incorporated in the national END MASS Incarceration Movement (EMI) that was initiated by attendees at the 2013 Prisoner’s Family Conference. In 2014 conference attendees drafted resolutions denoting numerous issues fueling MASS Incarceration to present to legislators at both the national and state levels.
The END MASS Incarceration Movement is an effort to unite all individuals, groups and organizations concerned with the unabated growth of the prison industrial complex in the United States. The movement culminated in the establishment of the Advocacy in Action Coalition, affirmed by over seventy individuals and representatives of established organizations at the 2015 conference. Subsequent to the conference the list of confirmed Coalition members has continued to grow. A working committee of the Coalition drafted a White Paper to validate our concerns. The Advocacy in Action Coalition White paper is an advocacy tool which will be distributed to the media, as well as to state and federal legislators, with our demands for reforms throughout the criminal justice system.
The 2015 conference also saw the launching of the International Network for Children with Incarcerated Parents, with attendees from nine different countries setting advocacy in motion to determine the rights and welfare of children of prisoners world-wide.
Advocacy efforts strengthen and expand each year. Filming for a documentary began at the 2016 conference. When completed the Faces of Mass Incarceration© will be used to introduce the mainstream community to members of the prison family in a non-threatening manner to dispell many erroneous myths and stereotypes that cause community members to fear and avoid returning prisoners and their loved ones.
One unexpected outcome of the advocacy efforts of the conference occurred when the conference initiator and chair partnered with a current prisoner in authoring a powerful guide from arrest through re-entry for prison families and those serving prison families in the fields of criminal justice, counseling, mental health and ministry. The book has subsequently been adopted as the text for college and university counseling and criminal justice classes. The release of The Unvarnished Truth about the Prison Family Journey opened doors for speaking engagements across the country. To schedule a presentation, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Prisoner’s Family Conference provides vital information for improving the quality of life for prison families during and following the incarceration of a loved one, and offers ample networking opportunities for ALL wishing to improve the quality of life for the prisoner’s family and the reintegrating prisoner.
All donations are appreciated & tax deductible. Please note that donations will appear with the name “Community Solutions of El Paso.” Community Solutions is the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that produces and hosts the annual InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference and all activities associated with the conference.