You Matter Summit Aims To Enlighten People About the Impact of Long-Term Prison Sentences

Lisa b daniels easterling center

Community News
By Tia Carol Jones

Read Time 3 minutes
April 11, 2024

This story was originally published in The Citizen.

A day-long summit designed to share the experiences of those who were formerly incarcerated will take place at Kennedy-King College on Wednesday, April 24th. The You Matter Summit, hosted by the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices, in partnership with the Field Foundation of Illinois and Illinois Humanities, will highlight the consequences extended prison stays have on those who are incarcerated, their families and the community.

Lisa D. Daniels founded the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices (The Center) with the goal to develop trauma-informed solutions to support communities of color that are impacted by mass incarceration and violent crime. Daniels named The Center after her son, Darren B. Easterling, who was a victim of gun violence, with the hope to change the narrative surrounding his legacy, along with the legacy of young men like him, to one that shines a light on hope, promise and love.

Dr. Kathryn Bocanegra, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work, will moderate a panel that includes people who are formerly incarcerated, a journalist and author who has written about the carceral system, as well as a mental health professional, as they discuss the impact of long-term prison sentences. Daniels will be moderating a panel of formerly incarcerated individuals who will share their story and experiences.

Daniels said she created the summit as an extension of The Center’s You Matter program. The program helps to heal the trauma for men of color who have served long-term prison sentences. Fifty individuals who served 10 years or more were interviewed about their experience, family and intimate partner relationships and their re-entry experience as part of a needs assessment. From that, the content was used for an audio project with the goal of sharing the humanity of the experience of those who have been incarcerated. As someone who works on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, Daniels is in direct contact with people who have experienced long-term prison sentences, and she has seen the impact firsthand.

Daniels talked to Bocanegra about the idea to host the summit and share the stories of the formerly incarcerated individuals. The hope is that people will see the humanity of those who have experienced long-term prison sentences.

“The way that Lisa approaches her work is really through a multi-layered, multipronged effort around supporting individuals who have been impacted in systems change,” Bocanegra said. 

She added that the summit is to promote systems change and create connections based on the shared humanity of everyone involved.

The week the summit will take place is recognized as National Second Chance Week and National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. Organizations across the country acknowledge the re-entry experience of those who have been incarcerated and those who have experienced violent crime or who have lost a loved one to violent crime. While Daniels doesn’t think the recognition of these two things was done on purpose, she thinks it is worth noting.

“These two categories of people who are often separated by systems, and purposefully so, more often than not to further system agendas, are actually recognized on a national level at the same time and I think it’s important to note that because studies show that individuals who have caused harm, who have caused enough harm to be incarcerated for something they’ve done, have often been harmed themselves,” she said...