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IPP returns to the United Nations

March 10, 2024 Uncategorised

Read below the full report fom our partner organisation Interfaith Prison Partnership (IPP) who made such a valuable contribution to our UN Side Event in New York. It was a privilege for IPCA to give these thought leaders in innovative and reforming approaches to prison systems a platform at this level!

Speakers, sponsors and IPP organizer for the UN Event.

Photo Credits: Melvin McCray (unless otherwise noted)

Photo Credits: Melvin McCray (unless otherwise noted)

Sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, under the UN’s NGO, International Prison Chaplains Association (IPCA), and organized by Interfaith Prison Partnership, a side-event was held in Conference Room D of the UN General Assembly Building on Wednesday, February 14, 2024. The event was entitled “A Human Dignity and Faith Perspective on the Eradication of Poverty as one of the Main Root Causes of Incarceration in the World”. The focus was on the intersection of poverty and crime. 

Welcomed by Ambassador Donal Cronin, Deputy Permanent Representative at the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN, and Rev. Jean-Didier Mboyo, Vice-President of IPCA; organized/moderated by Sharon Griest Ballen, IPP Program Coordinator, twelve experts in their fields from four continents joined the hybrid meeting. They are pictured below. These international conferences are an optimal way to share new concepts like Adopt-a-Prison, IPP’s signature program, initiated by Dr. Hans Hallunbaek. One of the speakers, Peter Olwal from Kenya, spoke about how he has started an Adopt-A-Prison program in Kenya.

Each of the speakers spoke from their perspective, to a filled-to-the-maximum audience of professionals in this area, about how so much of crime is rooted in the effects of poverty, and racism, on people and society – little or no access to medical and mental health care, unsafe neighborhoods, substandard schools/education, poor housing conditions, lack of jobs, the list is long. Many people who find themselves in the carceral system were failed by society long before they ever committed a crime.  

Ambassador Donal Cronin

Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations

“One of the core messages of the Sustainable Development Goals is ‘leaving no one behind’. While reaching those furthest behind is never straightforward or easy, we believe that the only way we can make a lasting impact to poverty eradication is by applying this standard in all that we do, including when we talk about prisoners and their human rights.” – Pablo Leahy Gomez, Second Secretary General Assembly and Our Common Agenda Elections Officer • Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations

Rev Jean-Didier Mboyo

Vice President

International Prison Chaplains Association

Democratic Republic of Congo

Chloe Aquart, Esq

Deputy Director Vera Institute of Justice’s Restoring Promise Initiative

Hope is at the heart of any conversation when you have practitioners from around the globe discussing human dignity for incarcerated people. Restoring Promise is one part of a larger web of organizations and individuals working to make conditions more humane for the people working and living in prisons.

My hope is that everyone had an opportunity to learn from and gain insights into ways they can use the work of others to strengthen their own efforts at transforming systems that marginalize and oppress.” – Chloe Aquart

Dr. Ronald Day

Senior Vice-President

The Fortune Society

Rita Felton

Health Navigation Specialist Women’s Prison Association & Home

Rev. Dr. Ulrica Fritzon

Church of Sweden

Reconciliation Group


Prison Chaplain in Sweden

Photo by Alan Pogue

Aidan King

Project Coordinator for the Collaboration among The John Howard Association of Illinois, The Pennsylvania Prison Society, and The Correctional Association of NY

“It was a privilege to represent the work of US civilian oversight organizations among so many national and international experts.

The event reinforced how universal the link is between poverty and incarceration, which is something we seek to address daily across our three states”. – Aidan King

Dr. Seungmug “Zech” Lee

Associate Professor

Texas A&M International University

Melvin McCray

Retired Network Journalist

Digital Media Training Program at

The Fortune Society

Dr. Robert McCrie


John Jay College of Criminal Justice

“We are fighting darkness to lighten the better side of humanity. I feel pretty sure that not far in the future we can look back on these days and realize that they were formative in changing our American bias for punitive incarceration, which is at odds with other economically advanced nations (and Christian principles). People like you will have made the difference. Yet, there is so much more to accomplish.” – Robert McCrie

Peter Olwal

Executive Director

PanAfrica CURE (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), Kenya

“Whenever we use dignifying language while speaking with persons who are interacting with the criminal justice system, we inculcate in them a humanness that separates the individuals from the acts of crime they were charged with. As such, we create a clear roadmap to a holistic rehabilitation and restoration which empowers them to lead refined lives once they secure their freedom from incarceration”. – Peter Olwal

Christopher Poulos, Esq

Executive Director

Center for Justice and Human Dignity

“Listening to the perspectives of international experts and sharing about our focus on the need for centering human dignity in prisons and jails was a very powerful experience. We are incredibly grateful to have been included.” -Christopher Poulos

(Photo: Washington State Department of Commerce)

Cheryl Wilkins

Co-founder and Co-Director of Columbia University Center for Justice

Thank you for organizing such an impactful session. Leaving with lots of thoughts and hopes that all of us in our own way can impact change, understanding, and support. – Emily Bushnell, Executive Director, Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship Program

Hearing voices from many prison advocacy and reform organizations worldwide was received with a ray of hope and inspiration. Hearing that the European prison system and one Korean Faith-based Prison have a different approach—more humane, less oppressive – could serve as models for changing the US system.  It would be such an interesting experiment if just one US prison could adapt and measure outcomes. – Gayl Lavinder – attendee and IPP volunteer

“It was a meeting of people from all over the world, in diverse roles (US, Europe, Africa, Asia; lawyer, academic, social worker), with a common belief that incarcerated people deserve respect and hope during and after their incarceration. The participants shared their experiences, challenges and successes, to encourage deeper understanding and inspire new ways to help incarcerated people around the world. I especially liked the data from Korea, showing Christian run prisons had the most success in reducing recidivism.” – Constance Dalvito – attendee

Thank you for including me this morning. What a powerful group of people that, together, are working to make lasting change. And you are among them. Your work, influence and reach is an inspiration. – Wendy Belzberg, Endeavor Therapeutic Horsemanship Program

Congratulations on doing such a great job curating and organizing the event at the UN this morning. It was a great mix of people and perspectives. – Tommy Safian, Chords That Bind 

First off, I wanted to enthusiastically express my appreciation for the chance to attend and participate in the meeting yesterday – it was a wonderful privilege and I’m extremely grateful to you, and to IPP for the opportunity. – Daniel Shea, President and Co-Founder, A Touch of Light

This summary from IPP was selected to be featured in the UN website. Click on the button below to view.