Annual Conference

 2015 Annual Conference
Lord, Let Our Eyes Be Opened: 
Breaking the Chains of Mass Incarceration
October 23-26, 2015 

 Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg East

4751 Lindle Road

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

REGISTRATION IS OPEN! Please join us for Lord, Let Our Eyes Be Opened: Breaking the Chains of Mass Incarceration at the Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center in Harrisburg beginning the evening of Friday, October 23 and running through Sunday, October 25. The event will be followed on Monday, October 26 with a day of action at the Capitol. This is a relaunch of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches' annual conference (formerly the Pennsylvania Pastors’ Conference).

The event is aimed at educating people of faith (clergy and laity) about America’s system of mass incarceration. We’ll look at:

  • the religious, sociological, and economic foundations that support why the faith community must be involved in criminal justice reform efforts;

  • how race, inconsistent sentencing guidelines for drug offenses and mandatory minimum requirements have placed a disproportionate number of poor persons and persons of color behind bars;

  • treatment of incarcerated persons, and how (if at all) they are prepared for reentry into the community;

  • barriers for returning citizens, issues for communities as they welcome them, and resources to support them; and

  • what congregations can do on all of these fronts.

We are thrilled that we will be joined by Dr. Harold Dean Trulear, nationally acclaimed founder and director of Healing Communities USA, Glenn E. Martin, Founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA, and Dr. Michael Rowan, Assistant Professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for our foundational sessions. See biographies below. Presenters in our panel discussions will include a number of returning citizens as well as criminal justice experts who can speak with authority about the topics they address. John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, will speak at lunch on Saturday, October 24.

See the most up-to-date version of the conference program here.

Those attending the conference will be eligible for 1.0 CEUs (continuing education units) made available by Lancaster Theological Seminary at a cost of $25.

Also, just prior to the conference, we will be hosting Healing Communities training. Healing Communities is a proven, national model, created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and faith leaders from across the theological spectrum, to engage congregations in the restoration and healing of their own members who have been impacted by crime and the criminal justice system. This training will equip and empower congregations with resources, information and support, while each congregation decides on its own action plan and approach to work toward being a healing community, based on its own culture, beliefs and demographics. Learn more at, and register at

We will continue to provide further information about the program as it comes together. Watch our Facebook page for updates, or call or write to Sandy Strauss at (717) 545-4761 or for more information. We will also post the full program here once it is closer to final.

TO REGISTER, go to the Registration Page, or download the Registration Form here. Note also that there is a very good special rate available for lodging at the Red Lion Hotel Harrisburg East (4751 Lindle Road, Harrisburg, PA 17111) as well—$105/night plus 6% Occupancy and 5% County tax--same rate for single or double occupancy. We encourage participants to stay on site to take advantage of evening events, including films focusing on this issue and fellowship with other participants. Reserve your room by calling the Red Lion at (717) 939 7841.

We also welcome sponsorships. Learn more about how you can help to support this conference by downloading the Sponsorship Form.

If you’d like to be on a mailing list for updates, send an e-mail to Linda Shenck at

Please mark your calendar for what promises to be a stimulating and informative event!


Harold Dean Trulear, Ph.D., is director of the Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Prisoner Reentry Project of the Philadelphia Leadership Foundation. Designed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Healing Communities has been implemented in over 20 sites nationally (including in Pennsylvania), in partnership with such organizations as the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the Christian Association for Prisoner Aftercare, and the national Women’s Prison Project.

Dr. Trulear is an ordained American Baptist minister and serves as Associate Professor of Applied Theology and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Howard University. He also serves as a Fellow at the Center for Public Justice. He is founding president of GLOBE (God Leading Our Best Efforts) Ministries, a youth services agency in Philadelphia, and has taught religion, public policy, and community studies in several institutions, including Yale University, Drew University, Hartford Seminary, Eastern University, and Vanderbilt University.

A graduate of Morehouse College (B.A.) and Drew University (Ph.D.), Dr. Trulear has published more than 70 monographs, articles, essays, sermons, and reviews, including The African-American Church and Welfare Reform (Center for Public Justice; and Faith-Based Institutions and High-Risk Youth (Public/Private Ventures; He also writes a bi-monthly column for PRISM magazine.

Glenn E. Martin is the Founder and President of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA), an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030. JLUSA empowers people most affected by incarceration to drive policy reform. Glenn is a national leader and criminal justice reform advocate who spent six years in New York State prisons. Prior to founding JLUSA, Glenn served for seven years as Vice President of Development and Public Affairs at The Fortune Society, one of the most respected reentry organizations in the country and six years as Co-Director of the National HIRE Network at the Legal Action Center.

Glenn is Co-Founder of the Education from the Inside Out Coalition, a 2014 Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellow, a 2012 America’s Leaders of Change National Urban Fellow, and a member of the governing boards of the College and Community Fellowship, Prisoners’ Legal Services, the Petey Greene Program, the Reset Foundation, the New York Foundation, and California Partnership for Safe Communities.

Glenn also serves on Governor Cuomo's Reentry and Reintegration Council, the advisory board of the Vera Institute’s Public Health and Mass Incarceration Initiative, the National Network for Safe Communities and the Executive Session on Community Corrections at Harvard Kennedy School. Glenn regularly contributes his expertise to national news outlets such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, Al Jazeera and CSPAN on topics such as policing, decarceration, alternatives to incarceration, and reentry issues.

Assistant Professor Michael Rowan graduated with a PhD in Sociology from New York University in September 2013. His dissertation examined how a population of chronically homeless and jobless men and women are policed and otherwise regulated as they live out their days in the space in and around the Journal Square transportation center and train station in Jersey City, New Jersey—a space that its most regular users and inhabitants refer to simply as “the square.”


Since he began teaching at John Jay College, Dr. Rowan has taught and designed courses in the Introduction to Sociology, the Sociology of Crime, and the Sociology of Law. His other areas of concentration and interest include urban sociology, public sociology and criminology, critical criminology, ethnography, the regulation of the poor, homelessness, policing, the sociology and psychology of punishment, and the intersections between democratic theory, crime control, and punishment.


Dr. Rowan was born and raised in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 2000, he graduated from Geneva College with a B.A. in History. Following time with AmeriCorps, he attended law school at the Florida State University College of Law, where he graduated in 2004. From 2006 to 2007, he was a visiting professor of legal studies at the University of Central Florida, where he taught courses in legal ethics, contracts, and critical legal studies. He is very happy to be a member of the John Jay community and am absolutely committed to advancing the college's mission of "educating for justice."





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