- MELANIE EINZIG
The Adopt-A-Prison program (AAP) is a joint initiative between the Interfaith Prison Partnership (IPP), the Town of Bedford, the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, and the Taconic Correctional Facility. This community engagement guide encourages a joint journey towards a more equitable, restorative justice system. The AAP model recognizes that increased services provided to those in prison lead to more successful reentry after serving sentences, safer working conditions for prison employees, and more. In September 2019, over 100 residents, program organizers, and community board members attended a town hall meeting to discuss the new initiative. After the successful event, and with a number of outside community groups expressing interest in emulating the Adopt-A-Prison program, Bedford’s Town Board unanimously passed a resolution establishing the first-ever Prison Relations Advisory Committee (PRAC) to a Town Board. Research conducted by members found no similar town board committee in the country.
According to Hans Hallundbaek (D-Min), the Director of the Interfaith Prison Partnership, the IPP and the Bedford Town Supervisor are now appointing members to the PRAC Committee, including elected officials, prison volunteer and reentry organizations, local business owners, and more. Aileen Baumgartner, MMC’s Bedford Hills College Program Director, has been invited by Committee Chair Sharon Ballen to serve on the advisory committee and provide critical insight on the prison program operations. All of us at MMC look forward to seeing what progress will be made with this important committee!