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Hereford Family Affairs:

Swords into Plowshares

The 2007 Jesus Radicals Conference

By Fr. Tom Hereford, November Coalition

The Problem with Prisons was the title of the Closing Plenary at the Jesus Radicals annual conference named: Swords into Plowshares: Anarchism, Christianity and Principles of Peace.

"Jesus Radicals aspires to be a resource for those who believe that the Christian Gospel is primarily a message of love and peace, and that militarism, capitalism and the state are idols that stand in stark contrast to the rejection of power by Jesus in favor of a personalist way."

Defense attorney and former Public Defender Jessica Hoskins
illustrates the limited options available under present policies.

The 135 conference attendees from various faith traditions were hosted by New Hope Farm & Hope House Catholic Worker Community in Dubuque, Iowa on August 10 - 11, 2007.

Christian Peacemaking was discussed from many viewpoints throughout the conference, including peace with creation, our neighbors, and our enemies.

On Saturday Evening, "The Problem with Prisons" Plenary Panel was facilitated by Nekeisha Alexis-Baker (one of the conference coordinators). Panelists included Brian Terrell (30-year Catholic Worker and Peace Activist), Jessica Hoskins (defense attorney and former Public Defender), Orson Davis (former inmate who served 15+ years), and Fr. Tom Hereford (Peace and Justice Activist and former Federal Prison Chaplain).

Panelists wove their stories together into a unified call for growth in prison reform activities.

One almost immediate outcome of the conference was Hope House Catholic Worker Community's decision to make prison reform and prisoner support part of its mission.

Members have already begun collecting books for prisoners, writing to prisoners, volunteering with the Alternatives to Violence Project and hosting prison reform round table discussions.

The plenary session and conference ended in prayer lead by Orson Davis where we joined hands in solidarity with one another and with all brothers and sisters in prisons around the world.

As we prayed, we felt held in the Heart of God, at one with those in prison also held in the Heart of God.

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