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Seats Still Available for Criminal Re-Entry Conference

'Life Without Bars: Removing Invisible Barriers to Reentry' will be presented Sept. 28.

Southwestern PA Re-entry Coalition, the University of Pittsburgh-School of Social Work Center for Race and Social Problems and Mon Valley Initiative will present a conference, "Life Without Bars: Removing Invisible Barriers to Re-entry," on Friday, Sept. 28.

Life Without Bars is a conference on national, state and local strategies and solutions to effectively reintegrate individuals with criminal backgrounds into communities in southwestern Pennsylvania addressing efforts to mitigate barriers to reentry, criminal justice system, public policy/legislation and reentry best practices.

John Wetzel, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; Mike Potteiger, chairman of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole; and state Senator Stewart Greenleaf, 12th District, will discuss the criminal justice reform act signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on July 5 and the Justice Reinvestment Initiatives undertaken by our state.

Attendees will want to hear about these acts and initiatives in implementing the new law, as well as projected outcomes; how community groups, non-profits and others can become involved in reducing recidivism in our state.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald will introduce the keynote speaker for the conference, U.S. Attorney David Hickton, who will speak on the significance of reentry at the federal level and its impact on communities in southwestern Pennsylvania.

State Sen. Jay Costa will introduce former Congressman Joe Sestak, who will speak on the topic of his support for reentry strategies that reduce recidivism and his thoughts on why communities should support reentry and helping individuals, returning from incarceration, to restore positive ties to their families and to their communities.

SPARC is a coalition of workforce development, social service and criminal justice agencies committed to serving job seekers with criminal records and linking them to employment opportunities and supportive services.

For more information, call Nigel A. Smith, SPARC Coordinator at 412-464-4000, ext. 4034. Conference fee is $25; limited seating is available.

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