Last week, over 500 people gathered in Oakland, California for the first national conference of the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Families Movement. This gathering was years in the making, and lays down a clear marker in the new era of reversing mass incarceration. New Orleans was well represented, as it should be, holding the dubious title of the most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the most incarcerated nation in the world.
Upon arrival at the hotel, old friends embraced while new ones were quickly made. Once again, people who have spent time in a cage — whether for days or decades — could greet and speak in comfortable terms without feeling ostracized or discriminated against. All of VOTE’s staff joined with three VOTE board members and several of our members, including those who intersect with OPPRC, the Louisiana Prison Education Coalition, Women With a Vision, and the free living members of the Angola 3, Robert King and Albert Woodfox.
VOTE Executive Director Norris Henderson joined with several other impressive leaders, who have been planning this gathering for many years, to welcome everyone to the space and provide the history of this collaboration.