Prison Reform & Ending Mass Incarceration

Event details

  • Wednesday | November 1, 2023
  • 7:00 pm
  • 8339 Old York Road
  • 2158878700


You are invited to attend an important program and panel discussion discussing the excessive use of incarceration in America featuring

Guest Speaker Bob Lankin Speaker & Activist on ending Mass Incarceration. Bob Lankin is a speaker and activist waking to end mass incarceration. He is the coordinator of the Jewish Congregation at S. C. I Phoenix. He has spoken for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Gratz College, Jewish Community Relations Counsel, numerous Churches and Synagogues Community Association and Services clubs. Bob is an Attorney, Certified Financial Planner and Branch Manager at Raymond James Financial Service in Glenside and Quakertown, Pa. 


Panel Participants:

Rabbi Dr. Carol Harris-Shapiro – educator and prison chaplain. Dr. Carol Harris-Shapiro is a rabbi and professor emeritus at Temple University.  During her tenure at Temple, she provided opportunities for her students to work with the North Philadelphia community as part of their courses, and both as a prison chaplain and professor educated herself and her students about mass incarceration. Her academic interests include historical and contemporary American religion, the impact of religious beliefs and behaviors on other aspects of society and culture around the globe, and anything else that piques her interest in her new status as a retiree.  Her ongoing project is a history of the Jewish community of Barre, VT, where she, her husband and two tiny poodles spend much quality time in the summer and fall.


Bryan Widenhouse – Policy Associate at *FAMM and former inmate. Bryan Widenhouse is a Policy Associate at FAMM, where he utilizes knowledge and experience as a system impacted person to advocate for sentencing reform. At the age of 17, he received a life without parole sentence and served 31 years of incarceration. Bryan has an inspiring story of redemption. He has managed and created national award-winning programs, written grants to fund a Prison Arts Program, completed three vocational degrees, and served as a Red Cross instructor. As an advocate Bryan testifies to legislatures, lobbies lawmakers, and oversees policy initiatives in multiple states. In addition to his work at FAMM, he sits on the Human Rights Watch, National Life Without Parole Leadership Council. He is a Coach for the Inside-Out Program, where he assists in training college professors on how to teach courses inside of prisons.


Celeste Trusty – Pennsylvania State Policy Director for *FAMM. Celeste Trusty is Pennsylvania State Policy Director for FAMM, where she works with impacted community members, lawmakers, and other stakeholders to advocate reforms to our overly-punitive sentencing laws and policies.  Ms. Trusty was appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to serve on the Judicial Conduct Board of PA in 2020, and served as Political Director for John Fetterman’s U.S. Senate campaign prior to her appointment as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons in the final year of the Wolf administration, where she oversaw the commonwealth’s clemency process. Celeste was also named to City and State Pennsylvania’s Power of Diversity: Black 100 list in both 2022 and 2023.  Ms. Trusty is dedicated to the liberation of people impacted by the legal system, and is so grateful for the opportunity to work closely with so many incredible organizations, lawmakers, and community members to transform our system into one that more closely resembles justice.


*Families Against Mandatory Minimums – nonprofit organization advocating for criminal justice

The panel members will attempt to answer the following questions:

  1. Does our rate of incarceration make us safer?
  2. How do we lower the crime rate?
  3. How do we treat those incarcerated?
  4. How much does it cost to keep up the current rate of incarceration?  How could we put some of those resources to better use?
  5. How does our rate of incarceration compare with other countries?
  6. What is it actually like to be incarcerated?
  7. What does Judaism say about incarcerating people accused of committing crimes and convicted of committing crimes?
  8. What action steps can we take going forward?

CLE credits for lawyers: 1 hr. substantive; .5 hrs ethics ~ $27 for KI Members or $54 for non Members

Everyone is welcome to attend this event.  It is suitable for attendees of all faiths. A program at Keneseth Israel – Elkins Park PA on November 1, 2023 7:00 PM ~ Old York and Township Line Roads, Elkins Park PA 19027!