Prison Relations Advisory Committee (PRAC)

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged on how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”– Nelson Mandela


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Adopt A Prison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Town of Bedford is composed of 18,000 people, including the 1000 women who reside in both of our two NYS women’s prisons: Taconic Correctional Facility and Bedford Hills Correctional Facility.

The Prison Relations Advisory Committee (hereafter referred to as PRAC) was established by a unanimous vote on a Resolution to the Town Board in December 2019 after the successful Adopt-A-Prison event of that same year. The Adopt-A-Prison event was a joint venture of the Interfaith Prison Partnership Program, the Town Supervisor, and the Superintendent of both NYS women’s prisons in the Town of Bedford.

The purpose of PRAC is to

1. Advise the Town Government on Prison Issues in general, and specifically issues as they relate to our two women’s prisons; and

2 To give examples and choices to the community of ways in which they could each “adopt” their local prisons and the women within, with an emphasis on “we”, rather than “they” and “us”.

Mission

It is our mission to unite those on the outside with those on the inside of the prison walls; to “adopt our prisons”.  We are composed of nineteen members who are committed to engaging and integrating the entire community of the Town of Bedford, regardless on which side of the prison wall one lives.

The first meeting of PRAC was January 2020. Almost immediately afterward, COVID-19 hit and we went full throttle to help our neighbors in prison by engaging the community to donate non-lye-based soap, masks, hot plates, plasticware – the list continues – in an effort to keep the women safe from the coronavirus. The “walls” between the prison and the community have become much more pliable as we see each other as the neighbors we, indeed, are.

PRAC consists of the following subcommittees:

Bright Hope – release bags for women upon release and going to live in a Homeless Shelter: Rev Dr Karen Blacks, Kathaleen Linares, Anne Lloyd

Correctional Facility Employment – Opportunities for the Bedford Community: MaryAnn Carr and Sharon Ballen

Masks for the women in prison during COVID: Anne Lloyd

Soap for the women in prison during COVID: Bobbi Bittker and Mark Sindeband. Sign Up here to volunteer

Sidewalk Development: Bart Tyler, MaryAnn Carr, Sharon Ballen

Social Media: Kathaleen Linares

Transgender Rights in Prison: Bobbi Bittker, Kitley Covill, Carol Parker, Jamie Tortorello-Allen, and Mark Davies(intern)

Committee Members

Sharon Griest Ballen, Chair
Interfaith Prison Partnership

Aileen Baumgartner
Bedford Hills College Program

Karen Blacks
Associate Minister, Antioch Baptist Church

Bobbi M. Bittker
Bedford Town Councilwoman

MaryAnn Carr
Bedford Town Supervisor

Kitley Covill
Westchester County Legislator

Randy Florke
Bard College Initiative

Hans Hallundbaek
Interfaith Prison Partnership (IPP)

Nada Khalifeh
Upper Westchester Muslim Society

Fr. Ron Lemmert
Retired Prison Chaplain

Kathaleen Linares
Hour Children

Anne Lloyd
Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA)

Claude Millery
Returned Citizen

Carol Parker
Woman2Woman

Mark Sindeband
Veterans’ Association

Gloria Gilbert Stoga
Puppies Behind Bars

Jamie Tortorello-Allen
Temple Beth Am

Bart Tyler
26-32 Parkway LLC

Cheryl Wilkins
Columbia University Center for Social Justice & Returned Citizen

Mark Davies
IPP Intern, Union Theological Seminary 

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