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
Where: Frederick Friends Meeting, 723 N Market St, Frederick, MD 21701
When: Tuesday, July 24 at 7 p.m.
Refreshments will be served.
Click Here to RSVP
IAHR is holding forums on solitary confinement in Maryland in different parts of the state. Last month we kicked off this program in Baltimore at Beth Am Synagogue. This month we are holding the forum in Frederick. IAHR is looking for different venues and sponsors in different parts of the state. If you think your religious community might be interested, please contact Rabbi Feinberg.
Wendell France’s career in law enforcement began in 1970 as an officer with the Baltimore Police Department. He served for 27 years and retired as a Commanding Officer of the Eastern District, where his leadership resulted in an overall 42% reduction in crime. In 1997, Wendell began work with Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services as an Assistant Warden at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center. He later served as the Commissioner of the Pretrial Detention and Services Division before he rose to the position of Deputy Secretary. Mr. France is currently President of France-Booker Consulting Group, L.L.C.
Julie Magers is the Leader of the Maryland Prisoners’ Rights Coalition (MPRC) which is a coalition governed by directly impacted families and returning citizens and supported by multiple advocacy organizations, advocates and concerned constituents. Ms. Magers is a directly impacted family member and has been a member of the MPRC for two years becoming its Leader in 2017. She is also the President/CEO of Justice and Recovery Advocates Inc., a non-profit organization that supports families of and systems-involved individuals suffering from mental health and substance use disorders.
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 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 Prisoners' Rights Coalition.
Rabbi Charles Feinberg (moderator) is the executive director of Interfaith Action for Human Rights. Rabbi Feinberg has served four different congregations in Wisconsin, New York, British Columbia, and Washington, DC. He is the past chairperson of the Social Action Committee of the Rabbinical Assembly and the past co-chair of T'ruah, the rabbinic call for human rights.
Sponsors: IAHR, Frederick Friends Meeting, Unity in Frederick, Social Action Committee, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of Maryland, Baltimore-Washington Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries
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