Interfaith Action for Human Rights is a coalition of Mid-Atlantic faith communities and human rights groups that believe in a multi-faith, multi-racial, and multi-ethnic society based on human rights and respect for human dignity.
Our mission is to strengthen bridges among regional faith communities to counter racism and religious bigotry and to work to redress pervasive injustice in our criminal justice system. Particularly, we seek to change the culture, policy or practices that cause torture or violate human dignity.
Guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the wisdom of our respective faiths, we work with faith and civil society groups to advocate for more just and compassionate laws and policies. We also develop pastoral and educational programs to engage and mobilize faith communities and the public.
IAHR's End Solitary Campaign
Read Theresa Vargas' Washington Post Column on IAHR's work in Virginia, featuring Gay Gardner.
Watch IAHR officers, Kimberly Jenkins-Snodgrass and Gay Gardner speak about solitary confinement at Red Onion Prison and in Virginia prisons. TV Inside Scoop is actually two separate weekly one hour live political shows produced in Fairfax Virginia. The Virginia oriented Sunday show is 6:30 to 7:30 PM Eastern time and the Monday National/International show is from 7:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern time.
Solitary Confinement in Maryland: A Special Forum
Beth Am Synagogue, 2501 Eutaw Place, Baltimore, MD
Over 50 people attended the forum on solitary confinement in Maryland that was held at Beth Am Synagogue on June 7.
The audience listened to presentations from the speakers listed below. There followed over an hour of questions and answers. A number of people in the audience volunteered to try to meet with candidates who are running for the Maryland Legislature.
The group agreed that candidates for the Maryland Legislature should be asked what they can do to change conditions of confinement in order to protect public safety.
The next forum on solitary confinement in Maryland will be held at the Friends Meeting House in Frederick, Maryland on Tuesday, July 23, 2018.
Some Photos from the Forum on Solitary at Beth Am Synagogue
Rabbi Feinberg opening the meeting Toni Holness-ACLU-MD
Munib Lohrasbi of Disability Rights Maryland Marcus Lilly-MD Prisoners' Rights Coalition
These were the speakers at Beth Am on June 7:
Lauren Young is Director of Litigation at Disability Rights Maryland which is Maryland’s designated Protection & Advocacy agency. DRM is federally mandated to advance the civil rights of people with disabilities. We provide free legal services to Marylanders of any age with all types of disabilities (developmental, intellectual, psychiatric, physical, sensory, learning, traumatic brain injury), who live in facilities, in the community or who are homeless.
Toni Holness is the Public Policy Director. She leads the ACLU in Maryland’s legislative program in the Maryland General Assembly, as well as other advocacy efforts across the state. The Maryland ACLU works to ensure that all people in the state of Maryland are free to think and speak as they choose
Munib Lohrasbi is a fellow at Disability Rights Maryland.
Marcus Lilly is a University of Baltimore college student and self proclaimed Transformation Advocate. As a former incarcerated citizen who has turned his life around, he is also advocates for prison reform. He is the author of The Marshall Project's article, "Finding College by Way of Prison." He has been a guest speaker at the University of Baltimore and Georgetown University. His goal is to become a mentor and share his story of transformation with high risk youth. Marcus is a member of the Maryland Prisoner Rights Coalition.
Rabbi Charles Feinberg is the Executive Director of Interfaith Action for Human Rights.
The program was sponsored by IAHR, Jews United for Justice - Baltimore, Beth Am Social Action Committee, Bolton Street Synagogue, Chizuk Amuno Social Justice Advocacy Committee, BHC Justice, and Kol HaLev.
IAHR'S Pen Pal Project
IAHR will be scheduling an online orientation in June. Please write to us if you are interested in becoming a pen pal. Everyone has to attend an orientation in order to become an IAHR pen pal. Orientation will be scheduled after emails are received. Some orientations are webinars. Here is some more information about the IAHR pen pal project.
IAHR’S Pen Pal Program is designed to link members of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples to District residents in BOP facilities. We are asking volunteers from each religious community to sign up to correspond with one imprisoned D.C. resident at least once a month for one year. We will be starting with ten Bureau of Prison facilities and will expand beyond these to residents in other facilities based on our initial success. Here's a link to a Google map of the Pen Pal prisons, their addresses, and DC population: Prison Map. (For a larger map, click on the square bracket in the map's upper right.)
Over 170 men and women in the BOP have already signed up for a pen pal. They are looking for someone who will reach out to them on a regular basis.
As of the middle of May, over a hundred people from various walks of life have signed up to be a pen pal with someone in prison. Yet we still need at least another 70 pen pals!
At the orientation, we will go over guidelines which will be sent to you in advance. We will also give you the name and address of a prisoner to write to. We will address any questions you may have.
We also plan to bring volunteers together periodically to reflect on their experiences and nurture the community of people who have come together to provide support and encouragement to this important segment of our community.
Be part of our effort to be a supportive presence for our incarcerated neighbors by joining this Pen Pal Program. We hope you will find it a rewarding and an enlightening experience.
For more information contact Tayshona Resper or call 202-669-7700.
Where We Stand
Programmatic Goals for 2017-2018
Reforming Criminal Justice
- Work with the Maryland Prisoners’ Rights coalition to support pending legislation in MD to improve prison conditions and restrict the use of solitary confinement. Participate in the 2018 Advocacy Day and other activities.
- Identify and mobilize a coalition to promote legislation and/or executive action to end prolonged solitary confinement in Virginia.
- Revive efforts to limit prolonged solitary confinement in the DC jail.
- Support individual prisoners and their families in efforts to improve prison conditions, especially around solitary confinement.
- Support national efforts to close Guantanamo.
- Advocate for policies and programs that ensure the productive re-entry of returning citizens from our region into society.
- Recruit and orient at least 30 pen pals for DC citizens in federal prisons.
Combating Religious Bigotry
- Lead and participate in annual interfaith projects such as “Imam-Rabbi Summit” and “Spread Hummus Not Hate” sponsored by IAHR and the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum.
- Develop an outreach strategy to engage more regional faith communities in the struggle against anti-Islamic bigotry.
What We Do
- Against Islamophobia
- Against Prolonged Solitary Confinement
- For closing Guantanamo
- Organize Petitions to end torture and solitary confinement
- Sponsor screenings, speakers and programs on the abuse of solitary confinement
- Sponsor legislation on solitary confinement
- Testify before state legislatures and local governments
- Track issues to keep our supporters and the public up to date
- Write articles, letters to the editor and on social media about our agenda
- Form coalitions with other human and civil rights organizations to advocate for criminal justice reform and to oppose anti-Muslim bigotry
How to Help
- Educate your faith community on our core missions
- Show Hawo's Dinner (anti-Muslim sentiment)
- Show Torture in your backyard (Solitary Confinement)
- Invite an IAHR guest speaker
- Provide advocacy on one of IAHR campaigns
- Organize a letter writing campaign
How to Contact IAHR