Over the first weekend of May, Vanderbilt University hosted a national conference, “Rethinking Prisons 2013.” For the first time ever, inmates Adam Clausen and Talib Shakir were invited to participate in this conference via video-link. Talib was to present “The Reconstruct Program: Reconstructing Lives One at a Time” and Adam’s topic was “Inmate Mentorship.” The presentations were based on the work that these two are doing at FCI McKean.
The university received approval from the FBOP back in late December/early January, but just three days before the start of the conference, the BOP rescinded the approval for “security reasons.” Even so, with support from Vanderbilt, family members presented the topics for Adam and Talib. The response to both presentations was phenomenal, and while Adam and Talib were not physically present, the words that each of them had carefully prepared about their programs were still able to be delivered to conference attendees. Their goal to promote reentry programming with an emphasis on continuing education was a success as attendees expressed a desire to see these programs instituted within other facilities.