Working for Justice: Catholic Charities’ Annual Symposium for Systemic Change

If you want peace, work for justice. -Pope Paul VI

Currently, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. With over 2.4 million American citizens behind bars, the issue of mass incarceration bleeds into almost every facet of society. Billions of dollars are spent every year to simply house inmates.

In 2012, the average cost per inmate was around $31,000. However, high recidivism rates in every state lead many to believe that incarceration in its present form is not truly rehabilitating prisoners.

Ronnie Moore Leading a Discussion at the 2015 Symposium for Systemic Change

Ronnie Moore Leading a Discussion at the 2015 Symposium for Systemic Change

Louisiana, known as the world’s prison capital, is particularly affected by mass incarceration. With 78 percent of the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s prison population being black and 16 percent of all state offenders being jailed for drug-related charges, it’s clear there are structural injustices adding to the issue of mass incarceration.

Imprisonment hurts individuals, but also hurts those around them. Families grow distant, finances suffer and children can be scarred for life. Further, when a prisoner is released, the challenges they face immediately upon release are sometimes more challenging than imprisonment. Homelessness, drug abuse and joblessness will all influence the potential for an individual to re-offend.

Mass incarceration is the final chapter in the struggle from slavery to this day. -Ronnie Moore

The first 72 hours of an individual’s release are perhaps the most crucial period in rehabilitation. More often than not, prisoners are released with little to no resources.

Catholic Charities’ Re-Entry 72 program aims to immediately give emergency housing, employment and support to prisoners re-entering society so as to keep them from re-offending. With over 60 individuals being helped every year, the Re-Entry 72 program sees how direct support and rehabilitation can chip away at the recidivism rate.

Along with the Re-Entry 72 program and other justice and employment services, Catholic Charities and program coordinators work tirelessly to bring legislative change to the Justice System.

Every year, Catholic Charities hosts a symposium that brings together individuals who are passionate about changing the world we live in through restorative justice.

Symposium for Systemic Change & Criminal Justice Reform

On October 20, 2017, Catholic Charities of New Orleans will host the annual Symposium for Systemic Change & Criminal Justice Reform.

Various esteemed community and spiritual leaders will lead talks about how to implement structural change, while open discussions will allow for passionate attendees to engage with others.

By the end of the day, we hope to attain an actionable plan for systemic justice.

The symposium will have sessions for both community leaders and students who wish to become engaged in the fight for criminal justice reform. All sessions will take place at the Tracy Center, which is located at 1800 South Acadian Thruway in Baton Rouge.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Angela Wattler at 985-966-3846 or through email at [email protected]