• 412-464-4000

  • 305 E. 8th Ave., Homestead, PA 15120

Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-entry Coalition hosts Life Without Bars Conference


HOMESTEAD, Pa., July 23, 2015—The Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-entry Coalition (SPARC) will host its 2015 Life Without Bars Conference, “Beyond Your Record: Roadmap to Successful Re-entry” on Thursday, July 30 and Friday, July 31, 2015 at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit located in The Waterfront.

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. While the conference program on July 30 caters to service providers and re-entry professionals, the July 31 program addresses topics specific to individuals with criminal backgrounds and interested members of the general public.

“With President Obama recently pressing for prison reform and focus on prisoner re-entry to our communities, we need to better understand the barriers of re-entry and work to better support second chances in the transition back to the community for those who have been incarcerated. This conference is an opportunity to foster a collective effort to examine and address these concerns.” stated Tracy Soska, Assistant Professor, Chair of the Community Organization and Social Action Program, and Director of Continuing Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Soska will serve as the Master of Ceremonies at the Conference on Thursday.

On Thursday, July 30, speakers will cover information about challenges and new developments in the re-entry environment, with topics including resources for successful re-entry, preparation for re-entry during incarceration, re-entry programs best practices, employer perspectives on re-entry, and real life stories from individuals who have experienced the re-entry process. Just a few of the many inspiring speakers in attendance are Shirley R. Moore Smeal of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, William Cimino from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and keynote speaker Raymond Miles, Jr., Counselor I, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.

Topics for the general public and those currently experiencing the re-entry process will include employer perspectives on hiring individuals with a criminal background, as well as resources for transportation, establishing good credit, and reunifying families. Friday’s program will conclude with a resource fair with over 20 service providers participating from throughout the Pittsburgh region. Presenters include Gwen Porter from the Ways to Work Program, Andre Broadus from Stepping Stone Housing, and Scott Albert of The Albert Institute and Career Talk will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) Credits are available through the Rehabilitation Counseling Program and the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh will be available on Thursday for service providers and other professionals in attendance.

For more information about the SPARC Conference, the Mon Valley Initiative or its Workforce & Business Development program, call 412-464-4000 x.4009.

About the Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-entry Coalition

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Re-entry Coalition (SPARC) was formed as an effort to coordinate resources for individuals whose criminal record creates barriers to self-sufficiency, through collaboration among agencies in Southwestern Pennsylvania. SPARC brings representatives from these participating organizations together to find the best way to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with the services and resources they need to successfully re-enter society and the workforce.

Media Contact:

Alethia Bush, SPARC Coordinator & Job Developer

abush@monvalleyinitiative.com | (412) 464-4000 x.4009


Mon Valley Initiative