Volume XI | Summer 2020
Your monthly news & updates
IPP works with various organizations,
both domestic and international,
building out coalitions
surrounding criminal justice reform.
Just Maybe...What This Time is About....

This whole period [of the pandemic] is one of seeing the often unseen who are so vital in so many ways. I just hope the recognition translates in a meaningful way.

- Nancy Haffner, one of the volunteers who sews masks for people in prison, farmworkers and many other "unseen" people.
Prison Relations Advisory Committee:
Forging - Not Breaking - Community
When IPP asked the question three years ago, "If we can adopt a highway, why can't we adopt our prisons?", little did we know the groundbreaking work that would result. IPP wanted to address the way that, traditionally, our criminal justice system focuses on breaking - not forging - community. Like Mr. Rogers, IPP realizes that those in prison are our neighbors, and it was long overdue that we reach out to our neighbors in prison to ask them "Won't you be my neighbor?"

Adopt a Prison
Meetings with the Town Supervisor of the Town of Bedford, NY; the Superintendents of the two NYS women's prisons which are located in Bedford; and the Interfaith Prison Partnership (IPP) staff commenced in 2016. In September of 2019, the Adopt-A-Prison event was held and attended by over 100 community residents. Eighteen different organizations which are involved in working with our neighbors in prison spoke, as well as local and state elected officials.

Pictured: Fabric donated by Diane Frankenberger, owner of People, Places and Quilts in Summerville, SC for the volunteers sewing children's masks. Photo Credit: Anne Lloyd
The Adopt a Prison event was so successful that the Town Supervisor, and now NYS Assemblyman-Elect, Chris Burdick, (pictured here) put a Resolution before the Town Board to establish the first-ever-in-the-country Prison Relations Advisory Committee (PRAC) to any Town. Mr. Burdick asked IPP's Program Coordinator, Sharon Griest Ballen, to Chair the Committee.
The Adopt-A-Prison Planning Committee decided on eighteen people, representing organizations which work in rehabilitation, reentry, education, children's programs, a local businessman, formerly incarcerated women, politicians, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic religious leaders, and a Veteran.
Since its inception, PRAC has organized several projects, with the help and support of the Superintendents of both NYS prisons in Bedford, "forging community" - bringing the community and the correctional facilities together - to help to make the prisons safer in the COVID pandemic: collecting over 20,000 bars of soap from members of the community to replace the state-issued lye-based soap for better, frequent hand washing; organizing groups of mask makers to provide masks for both the staff and the women in prison; organizing mask makers to provide masks for the children of the incarcerated when visiting resumed; providing wipes; requesting hot plates and individual plastic "silver" ware to allow for cooking on units and making possible more social distancing; collecting 1000 bottles of hand lotion; soliciting donations of yarn for the women who lost all visits and programs during COVID; working with local, county, state and federal elected officials on getting a sidewalk built so that staff and visitors can walk safely from the train station to the correctional facility; initiating "Bright Hope", a release bags project for women who are released from prison and going to a homeless shelter; and working on establishing a transgender support group for incarcerated individuals in both Taconic and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities.

This novel, and spiritual, concept turned into a program in which a community truly has adopted its two local prisons; where community has been forged rather than broken; where there is a genuine desire on the part of community members to help their neighbors in prison, to see them as greater than the worst thing that they have ever done...just as we all want to be seen as greater than the worst thing that we have ever done. When we heal others, we heal ourselves. The Town of Bedford has modeled loving thy neighbor as thyself. This is a model we hope to help to replicate around the world, and to inspire others to create their own version of adopting their local prison. Photo Credit: Angela James Photography
IPP had two articles published in Corrections Today magazine. Corrections Today is the professional membership publication of the American Correctional Association (ACA). In February 2021, Hans Hallundbaek, Director of IPP; Amy LaManna, Superintendent at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility; and Robert McCrie, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will be presenting the Adopt a Prison program at the ACA Conference on Zoom. Here are links to the two articles, one written by Hans and Sharon, and one written by Hans:
NYS Assemblyman-Elect, Chris Burdick
Our loss in Bedford will be New York State's gain. Our Town Supervisor, Chris Burdick, was elected in November to the NYS Assembly in Albany. We are hoping that Chris makes it onto the Corrections Committee of the State Assembly, as he fully supported the Adopt-A-Prison idea from its onset. It was Chris who suggested that the Town Board create the Prison Relations Advisory Committee, the first of it's kind in the nation. What PRAC has done during the pandemic is addressed in the article above. It is nothing short of remarkable and we have Chris' foresight and compassion to thank for the establishment of this Committee.
The "Domino" Effect:
How Kindness Begets Kindness

Pictured : Tanya Mitchell-Voyd (l), recently retired Superintendent of Taconic Correctional Facility and Amy LaManna (r), Superintendent of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Photo Credit: Angela James Photography

Nationwide, the Departments of Corrections have faced much criticism for their handling of COVID-19, and demands for the release of prisoners, often without a plan for the safety of inmates upon release. While working within the guidelines set forth by DOCCS, the two Superintendents of the two prisons in the Town of Bedford, Amy LaManna and Tanya Mitchell-Voyd, have worked tirelessly to do everything possible to keep the women in their care safe, and also emotionally intact. For example, Nursery mothers are in a tele pre-natal class. This is the first ever technology used in this way.

As have we all, people in prison have lost the ability to see their families, the ability to participate in programs which give them meaning and increase often damaged self-esteem, the ability to move around. They also live in very close living conditions which make social distancing difficult. They live in fear of the pandemic entering their facility and spreading like wildfire.

Both of the Superintendents have emphasized to me the importance of all that PRAC has done to organize a community to help its neighbors in prison...and for an additional reason than you may think! Unquestionably, the 20,000 bars of soap have made hand washing more comfortable, the masks have helped to cut down on the spread of infection, the hot plates have allowed women to cook on their units which allows more social distancing, the donation of hand lotions has been a balm on sore hands, the individual plastic ware donated for each woman to have her own utensils have helped to prevent the spread of the disease.

But what has been as important is the boon to the inmates self esteem by the community's donations. Our neighbors in prison do not feel forgotten, they do not feel "less than", they do not feel like they do not belong in this community. They feel valued, cared about and that they matter. As a result, the Superintendents describe a different "feel" in the prisons, which is obviously a subjective description. But what is quantifiable is the decrease in conflict among the women, the noticeably improved relationship between the inmates and the corrections officers resulting in a happier staff. The inmates feel better about themselves, they feel cared about. As a result, they are treating the Corrections Officers with more kindness and cooperation. The Corrections Officers then respond to being treated "better" by the inmates so they work even better with the inmates and the Administration. The domino effect is alive and well. When people feel better about themselves, they act "better"/differently.

As well, the NYS Department of Corrections and Community Supervision continues to work with phone and tablet vendors to ensure continued access to some free calls and secure weekly messages. The Department is offering the following additional benefits to encourage individuals to keep in contact with their families and friends:

  • Phone Calls. Incarcerated individuals will continue receiving three free phone calls, up to 30 minutes each week per Directive 4423, "Inmate Telephone Calls". Free calls are available starting at 7 a.m. on Saturdays and are associated with the first three calls made weekly. Unused calls do not carry forward from week-to-week.
  • Secure Message Stamps. Incarcerated individuals with access to a general confinement tablet or kiosk will continue receiving two free stamps each week to use for secure messaging. Stamps are added to accounts on Friday afternoon and do not accumulate. They replenish weekly based on use.
  • Free Prepaid Reply Wednesdays. Secure messages sent by friends and/or family members on a Wednesday will be accompanied with a free pre-paid stamp to enable the incarcerated individual to reply to the sender.
  • General Population Tablet Program. 
  • Free weekly movie. The vendor will continue making all four movies available at one time.
  • Free weekly game. The vendor will continue making all four games available at one time. 
  • Newsstand. Beginning Friday, May 1, incarcerated individuals received a free month's subscription to the vendor's Newsstand application. The Newsstand provides access to local and world news, sports and current events. The tablet must be updated to receive the Newsstand application and to subscribe to the service. Daily updates are available via kiosks.
  • Free Stamps. The Department will continue to make five free stamps per week available to the population for general correspondence per Directive 4422, "Inmate Correspondence Program

As of this writing, Family Reunion Programs resumed in the Fall. As the numbers rise in New York, the correctional facilities will monitor the situation to keep the women in their care safe.
Tanya Mitchell-Voyd Retires as
Superintendent of
Taconic Correctional Facility

Tanya Mitchell-Voyd (above), recently retired Superintendent of Taconic Correctional Facility, accepting a donation of specially-made children's masks - shortly before her retirement - for the children who visit their mothers incarcerated at Taconic Correctional Facility. Photo Credit: Sharon Griest Ballen
Superintendent Tanya Mitchell-Voyd worked tirelessly, consistently going above and beyond, for the women in her care. They were always, always, her first priority.

She welcomed the community into her correctional facility so that we could all work together for the betterment of the women in her care. By letting the community 'in", she helped us to heal ourselves...for by healing others, we heal ourselves.

Superintendent Mitchell-Voyd will be sorely missed.
Welcome Emily Williams
Newly-appointed Superintendent at
Taconic Correctional Facility
Superintendent Emily Williams came "home" when she was appointed the Superintendent at Taconic Correctional Facility upon the retirement of Tanya Mitchell-Voyd. Ms. Williams had previously been employed at Taconic, so walked in ready to hit the ground running. She takes the responsibility of the women in her care very seriously. As she said to me, "I believe in care, not cages". We agree! Welcome, Superintendent Williams!
Interfaith Prison Partnership
receives a grant from
Episcopal Charities
Not even PRAC's Dr. Karen Black's avulsion fracture in her hand could stop her from packing "Bright Hope" Release Bags for women being release from Taconic Correctional Facility and going to their new "home" - a homeless shelter.

PRAC is committed to providing women who, upon release, have no where to go but a homeless shelter, with a proper bag to carry their few belongings when they leave prison. Thanks to a generous grant from Episcopal Charities, we are able to supply each woman with a new bag, stocking each of those bags with a mask, hand sanitizer, toiletries, a washcloth and towel, and a blanket.

We are so grateful to Karen and her PRAC sub- committee, Kathaleen Linares and Anne Lloyd, for taking on this project.
Pictured (l-r): Shayla McJunkin,
Karla McJunkin, (daughter and wife of
Rev. Merle McJunkin of Antioch Baptist
Church and IPP Advisory Board member;
with Dr. Karen Blacks, Chair, Bright Hope
Release Bags for PRAC and Assoc
Minister at Antioch Baptist Church
We extend our profound gratitude to Episcopal Charities for standing up for women in prison, for embracing our sentiment, and for ensuring that no woman leaves prison carrying her belongings in a garbage bag. Photo Credit: Shayla McJunkin
When Love Wins
Click the links to read a very inspiring story, or watch The Today Show segment, about a Bard Prison Initiative graduate, Antoine Patton, who founded the Photo Patch Foundation. He created a website where children could type letters and upload photos for their incarcerated parent for free.
Upon his release, Mr. Patton's daughter, Jay Jay, took the website and developed an app for the Foundation so that children and parents could even more easily be in touch.  
Pictured above: Antoine Patton and his daughter "Jay Jay"
College and Community Fellowship:
Giving Justice Involved Women
the Tools to Go to College
What does a woman do if justice involved AND wanting to get or finish a college degree? Enter College and Community Fellowship...CCF was founded in 2001 by Barbara Martinsons, a sociology professor at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Barbara realized that many of her students didn’t have the resources or support to complete their degrees post-release, so she created CCF as a way to mentor women with criminal justice histories working toward their degrees in the community. 

They offer one-on-one academic counseling; community meetings that focus on personal development and educating the women about financial matters; and opportunities for financial support, for things such as college application fees. Among other programs, CCF offers three kinds of groups:
   1. Community Sisters - for women who want to go to college but have a barrier, such as owing a past balance at a college, but otherwise meet the criteria for college entrance.  
   2. Future Fellow - for women who might have even a few semesters of college behind them, but it is their first semester at CCF. They may have been the victim of a predatory college. 
   3. Fellow - for women who have taken twelve credits while at CCF and who are eligible for all financial supports CCF has. At this level, CCF helps each Fellow through a set of career modules, assists with job placement, and provides on the job training.  
As Stacy Burnett, Intake, Recruitment and Support Coordinator said, "CCF is like a funnel for every woman with justice involvement. If we do not have the service needed, we know how to get it. We are gender responsive and trauma informed. We give women the tools to be successful." 

What Would A World
Without Prisons
Look Like?
Little thought has been given to the role that the built environment plays in supporting the success of criminal justice policy changes and programs created to support decarceration.

With the movement toward decarceration, a series of pressing issues need to addressed, including the planning and building of infrastructure, such as housing, in under-invested communities to which citizens are returning; the need to cultivate restorative re-investments in these communities; and the adaptive reuse of defunct and vacant criminal justice infrastructure in our city centers and rural lands
The architect Deanna Van Buren designs civic spaces that are healing alternatives to correctional facilities.
A clear example of adaptive re-use by Ms. Van Buren's firm is their work with local black churches in Oakland, Calif., to transform their assets into re-entry infrastructure for released prisoners. One such example: her firm is turning a charter school building owned by the Center of Hope Community Church into the Hope Re-Entry Campus. There, up to forty individuals will have access to job training, a place to spend time with families, and therapeutic resources as they find full-time employment and the necessary permanent housing to stay out of prison, which seems to provide a much more productive, and successful, alternative to traditional prison.

A sad "Goodbye"
Two wonderful "Hello's"
Peter Johnson
Rev Dr Peter Johnson, a retired Presbyterian Minister having last served at Denton Presbyterian Church, is an original Advisory Council member. His dedication and hard work on behalf of IPP has been extraordinary. As Peter said in his letter to Hans, "It is with sadness that I tender my resignation from the Advisory Board of IPP. Between commitments with family, my appointment to a new Committee at the Presbytery, and other professional obligations, I find I must let go of some responsibilities. I will miss you, Sharon, and the rest of the board immensely. I have grown spiritually and intellectually under your leadership, Hans." Peter was an invaluable member of IPP's Advisory Council and will be missed very much.

Drew Courtright
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Drew grew up loving church, sports, and music. After high school at the North Carolina School of Science and Math, Drew studied Theology and Biblical Studies at the University of St Andrews (Scotland) where he also played on the ultimate frisbee team and discovered a love of tea. 
After St Andrews, Drew served as the Youth Minister at Christ Church, Charlotte before joining his wife, Alice, at Sewanee for seminary. After seminary, they moved to New Hampshire where Drew most recently served as Curate at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Concord, NH.
Drew is passionate about sharing God’s love through Word and Sacrament, deep conversation, and laughing a lot. And he is delighted to be serving the St. Matthew’s community and to have joined the Advisory Board of IPP!

Mark Davies
Mark Davies is a retired lawyer, having last served as Executive Director of New York City’s ethics board for 22 years.   Currently he is studying for a Master of Divinity degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and is serving during 2020-2021 as an intern at IPP.  Prior to government service, Mark was a full-time law professor and a private practitioner, specializing in municipal law and litigation. From 1990-2019, he was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham Law School, where he taught New York Practice.  A graduate of Columbia College and Columbia Law School, he is the former Chair of the Municipal Law Section of the New York State Bar Association and continues to serve as co-chair of the Section’s Government Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee.   He has written and lectured extensively on practice and government ethics, both nationally and internationally, including several times at the United Nations.
Reverend Dr. Peter Johnson
Drew Courtright, Assistant Minister, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, Bedford, NY

Mark Davies, IPP Intern from Union Theological Seminary, NYC

2021...the 50th Anniversary of Attica
One of the best-known and most significant flashpoints of the Prisoners' Rights Movement, the rebellion at Attica prison in September 1971, was based upon prisoners' demands for better living conditions and political rights.

Yet another black man, George Jackson, an inmate at San Quentin Prison, was murdered in August 1971 while incarcerated. On September 9, 1971, two weeks after Mr. Jackson's murder, 1,281 of the approximately 2,200 inmates at Attica rioted and took control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostage.

During the following four days of negotiations, authorities agreed to most of the prisoners' 28 demands, but would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover or for the removal of Attica's superintendent. By the order of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who refused to visit the prisoners during the rebellion, state police took back control of the prison. When the uprising was over, at least 43 people were dead (pictured above), including ten correction's officers and civilian employees, and 33 inmates.

As a result of the riot, a number of changes were made in the NY prison system to satisfy some of the prisoner's demands, reduce tension in the system and prevent such incidents in the future. As of 2020, Attica remains the most prominent prison riot to have occurred in the United States. (content credit: wikipedia)
The Global Congress on Correctional Change and IPP partner for a groundbreaking event!
IPP Advisory Council member, Dr. Robert McCrie of John Jay College of Criminal Justice (pictured), and Dr. Hans Hallundbaek, Director of the Interfaith Prison Partnership, are collaborating on an extraordinary event: The Global Congress on Correctional Changes (GC3).

The Congress will convene representatives from legislatures, the correctional system, researchers, and advocates on the topic of correctional transformation. The event will occur two years after the re-scheduled Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice originally planned for Kyoto in April 2020 and expected to be re-scheduled.

The Congress mostly will occur at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Representatives from both IPP and GC3 will present papers at the event and expect to share news in other ways. You will receive periodic updates on this momentous occasion.  
Weekly Table Talk
On November 24, 2020, Hans Hallundbaek was the featured speaker at "Tuesdays at Dorries". Hans introduced himself by telling the following story: “When I was in my mid-fifties, I was once confronted with a large red poster citing a Leo Tolstoy quote, ‘Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing him(her) self."

This encounter led to a stretched out mid-life correction, in which Hans went to seminary and eventually found his life’s work in prison teaching and reform; while at the same time reflecting on the idea that most of us, while hardly recognizing it, are in our own little self-made prisons, often yearning to find an escape into a more authentic selfhood and a life of purpose and meaning.

If you want to partner with us, support IPP, or learn more about our work - or about Adopt-A-Prison specifically - please contact:

IPP Director, Hans Hallundbaek
Program Coordinator, Sharon Griest Ballen
Photo Credit: Angela James