Our Mission

IAHR represents people of faith who educate and advocate in Maryland, DC and Virginia for corrections systems that avoid unnecessarily punitive practices such as solitary confinement and that instead focus on rehabilitation and successful reentry. 

Our Vision

IAHR envisions a societal system of corrections that

Is free of racism,

Is rehabilitative rather than punitive, and that...

  • Honors the dignity of each human being,
  • Helps people return to society well prepared to carry on with fulfilling and productive lives and
  • Holds those in power in the system responsible for implementing these principles.   

IAHR also envisions a society that minimizes the use of corrections by addressing the need for economic opportunity, education and healthcare of all of its members.

Our Work

IAHR contributes to the realization of our vision by bringing interfaith-based action to bear on prison reform in MD, DC (and the Federal Bureau of Prisons), and VA by:

  Advocating for

  • the end of all forms of brutality & torture in prisons and jails,
  • limiting the use of solitary confinement to 15 consecutive days and working toward its elimination,
  • the development of rehabilitative alternatives to the current system of mass incarceration and
  • improvement of education, medical care, and mental health services for those incarcerated,

 Providing supportive correspondents as well as legal and other services to those who are incarcerated and

 Educating the general population on prison reform.

 


Don't miss out on all the future exciting upcoming events below! Secure your spot and register now!


REGISTER FOR OUR ONLINE AUTHOR INTERVIEW NOW!

Join us on Monday, May 3, 2021 at 12p.m. (EST)

We will be having an open discussion/ Q&A with Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller, author of the book Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration.

Reuben Jonathan Miller is an Assistant Professor in the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. His research examines life at the intersections of race, poverty, crime control, and social welfare policy. His new book, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, is based on 15 years of research and practice with currently and formerly incarcerated men, women, their families, partners, and friends. Dr. Miller has conducted fieldwork in Chicago, Detroit, and New York City, examining how law, policy and emergent practices of state and third-party supervision changed the contours of citizenship, activism, community, and family life for poor black Americans and the urban poor more broadly. 

OUR HOSTS

 De'Aysia Barner (IAHR Intern)

Rabbi Charles Feinberg

Click here to RSVP now!


Symposium on Mass Incarceration, Communities and Families!

The United States incarcerates more people, and at the highest rate, than anywhere else in the world. The phenomenon of rapid and widespread imprisonment that goes well beyond the historical or comparative norm is referred to as “mass incarceration.” Ultimately, the effects of mass incarceration are felt very close to home—not only by the incarcerated, but by their family members and within communities that are particularly hard hit.

This symposium represents a transdisciplinary and inclusive effort to highlight the scope, impact, and response to widespread imprisonment in Virginia. Panelists consist of community leaders, social justice activists, justice-involved persons, and scholars from the Virginia Tech community as well as other Virginia universities. It is our hope that the day will spark future collaborative work, resource sharing, and the development of innovative responses aimed at addressing mass incarceration and the needs of families and communities.

The symposium will also feature IAHR's very own chairperson, Kimberly Jenkins-Snodgrass as a panelist!

The Symposium on Mass Incarceration, Communities and Families will be held virtually in light of precautions relating to COVID-19. Mark your calendars for this virtual event!

April 16, 2021 - 8:30AM-4:30PM

Click here to register for the virtual Symposium on Mass Incarceration, Communities and Families!


Muslim Advocates Sues Virginia Prison for Records on Treatment of Muslims

Muslims at Wallens Ridge Allegedly Prevented from Observing Ramadan, Experienced Violence and Unhygienic Conditions

 On Tuesday, April 6, 2021, Muslim Advocates sued the Virginia Department of Corrections for records related to prisoner complaints at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, VA. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Gay Gardner, a Virginia resident and advocate with Interfaith Action for Human Rights who has received numerous complaints about abusive treatment by Wallens Ridge staff towards incarcerated Muslims including physical violence, retaliation, unhygenic conditions and practices that prevent Muslims from receiving adequate food and drink during Ramadan.

Motivated by complaints from prisoners and news reports of mistreatment of prisoners at the Wallens Ridge facility, Muslim Advocates first sent a public records request to the Virginia Department of Corrections on behalf of Ms. Gardner in 2020. The Department responded with no documents specific to Wallens Ridge, a high security prison,  and only a small number of documents concerning high-level policies. The Department also announced that it was withholding important categories of records, including complaints by prisoners about religious mistreatment, claiming that they fall under an exemption to Virginia’s public records law designed to protect prisoners’ personal records. The lawsuit challenges both the Department’s failure to produce records and the Department’s invocation of this exemption.

“With Ramadan set to begin in just a few weeks, we must know how Muslims at Wallens Ridge are being treated,” said Gay Gardner, advocate at Interfaith Action for Human Rights. “We have received extremely disturbing reports that Muslims at the facility have been subject to violence, threats and bigotry from the staff at Wallens Ridge. It is simply outrageous that the state of Virginia is avoiding accountability by withholding these public records.”

“The reports of mistreatment of prisoners at Wallens Ridge are troubling, and the documents being sought in this lawsuit will be an important part of understanding their practices,” said Matt Callahan, senior staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “Virginia’s state legislature has made clear through its robust public records laws that public oversight of the prison system is important. By refusing to produce these records, the Virginia Department of Corrections is fighting the purpose of the law and obstructing an important check against prison abuse.”

Additional Resources:

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Interfaith Action for Human Rights

wishes a blessed Ramadan to all our Muslim friends.

May this Ramadan be filled with peace, happiness and good health.

Ramadan Mubarak!


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