Summit draws together Pennsylvania and national leaders to examine issues faced by offenders re-entering society
Public Relations - Published: September 13, 2011
HarrisburgCapitolEXTERIOR235Challenges facing offenders who are re-entering their communities after incarceration will be the focus of an event to be presented Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 by the Law & Government Institute on the Harrisburg campus of Widener Law.

The event, organized by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Emeritus Doris A. Smith-Ribner, will feature four panels of distinguished criminal justice experts who will explore these challenges and offer solutions for change. The event, titled the “Pennsylvania Reentry Summit: Exploring and Examining Innovative Reentry Strategies for the 21st Century,” runs from 1 to 6 p.m. in room A180 of the school’s administration building at 3800 Vartan Way, Harrisburg.

More than 700,000 people are released annually from state and federal prisons, with more than two-thirds rearrested within three years. Nationally, the United States spends nearly $70 billion on corrections while the current Pennsylvania corrections budget is almost $2 billion.

The summit will look at barriers that hinder successful reentry to the community, such as laws that impose collateral consequences upon people with convictions, and offer new and innovative ideas for improving the reentry process.

“Effective reentry strategies will reduce recidivism and enhance public safety. They also will save tax dollars by decreasing incarceration costs, and, perhaps most importantly, they will help give offenders the best chance at becoming productive citizens,” Smith-Ribner said.

Among those in the speaker lineup are:
  • Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel and Amy L. Solomon, senior advisor to the assistant attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department, speaking on a panel that will examine remedies to reduce recidivism.
  • Christopher Gowen, senior staff attorney to the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, speaking on a panel about the collateral consequences of a conviction.
  • Mark Boyd, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania, speaking on a panel about best reentry practices and policies.
  • Joseph A. McMillan, past national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives speaking on a panel about the law enforcement and ex-offenders’ reentry initiative.
Pennsylvania Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf and Rep. Ronald G. Waters also will take part in the day. Both legislators have taken an active and vigorous role in criminal justice reform in the Commonwealth.

“Reentry challenges affect everyone, whether it is the offenders who are returning to society or their neighbors, who are in every community. This summit will explore a lot of important issues and new ideas. Widener’s Law & Government Institute is proud to join with Judge Smith-Ribner in presenting a program that has so much to contribute to the public discourse on this important topic,” said Professor John L. Gedid, director of the institute.

Attorneys who attend the program will be eligible for 4.5 substantive continuing legal education credits in Pennsylvania and Delaware. Cost to attend for credit is $75 or $50 for Widener Law alumni. Attendance is free for students and those in the general public who do not seek education credits. The event will end with a reception at 6 p.m. sponsored by Goodwill Industries.

Visit law.widener.edu/reentry for a full list of speakers, an agenda for the day and more registration information.