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Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC) and the Stay Connected. Stay Strong! Conference: Supporting Families Impacted by Incarceration

posted Apr 12, 2018, 1:20 PM by daniel yoo   [ updated Apr 12, 2018, 1:50 PM by Tech Support ]
It is important to understand the ways in which incarceration impacts the health and well-being of prisoners and their children and family members. Everyone can benefit from resources and strategies for staying strong and connected during incarceration. On April 13, 2018, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) Region IV Office of the Regional Health Administrator will host a conference titled Stay Connected. Stay Strong! Supporting Families Impacted by Incarceration at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

To learn more about the event, we spoke with two of the facilitators: Sharon Ricks, Regional Health Administrator, OASH, Region IV; and Sunny Slaughter, who co-chairs the committee on Violence as a Public Health Issue for the Southeastern Health Equity Council (SHEC/RHEC IV). The SHEC, which historically has addressed public health issues that impact vulnerable and marginalized communities in the Southeast region of the US, is one of the event partners. In addition to Ms. Slaughter, Brian McGregor, who also co-chairs the committee on Violence as a Public Health Issue for the SHEC is another speaker at the conference.

Ms. Ricks explained why leaders in the field are coming together in April 2018—National Minority Health Month that will celebrate the importance of community partnerships for health equity—to share effective strategies, tools, and resources for families impacted by incarceration. “Most of the states with the highest incarceration rates are in the South, and these same states are most impacted by health disparities. This conference will encourage impacted families and their allies to be change agents and to offer strategies that every family in the Southeastern US can use to stay connected and stay strong.”

“Staying connected is always the hardest part,” said Ms. Slaughter, “when it comes to the specific and diverse forms of trauma involved in incarceration.” She noted that the conference also will provide an unprecedented opportunity for families and children to offer testimonials. “Mass incarceration is most often about those behind the bars, but this conference will give those beyond the bars the opportunity to emerge from the shadows to be seen and heard. Their experiences matter!”

The conference also will “enable corrections officers in this region to discover new strategies and programs with proven success in improving outcomes for families and communities impacted by incarceration,” Ms. Ricks explained. She added that speakers from across the country will share their expertise on this topic. Speakers include: Sandra Kay Barnhill, JD, champion for reentry services; Kate Boccia, founder of The National Incarceration Association (NIA); Ernest Drucker, PhD, professor at the College of Global Public Health, New York University and licensed clinical psychologist; Ron and Catherine Dijerina, co-founders of TYRO Dads and The Ridge Project to build strong families; and Dominique Gilliard, pastor and author of Rethinking Incarceration. The conference also will feature graduates of the Morehouse Satcher Health Leadership Institute’s Community Health Leadership Program. Some of the event’s partners are NIA, The Ridge Project, TYRO, and HEUDIA Health.

The conference will provide a forum for collaboration and action among policy leaders, advocates, public health experts, service providers, social workers, and corrections and probation officers to support and empower families and children impacted by the criminal justice system. The emphasis of Stay Connected, Stay Strong will be on justice as “restorative and reconciling, not retributive and isolating,” as Pastor Gilliard has stated in his work dedicated to changing mass incarceration.

To learn more about the event and register, visit: