Incarceration: From the inside looking out and from the outside looking in

How does it feel to be incarcerated in an American prison? How difficult is the transition into society?

Elizabeth Howard is joined in conversation with Robert Pollock, editor of The Named and The Nameless, 2018 PEN Prison Writing Awards Anthology; Samuel Cabassa, Certified Recovery Peer Advocate; and Lanetta Hill, a supervisor for Services for the Underserved. Robert Pollock, Samuel Cabassa and Lanetta Hill have all been incarcerated in New York State prisons. Bruce MacLeod, President of the Board of Truestees of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and member of the Board of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, will introduce the event.

A short reception will follow the hour-long conversation. The reception is being underwritten by the J.C. Flowers Foundation a, key funder of Circles of Support: a partnership of grass root organizations supporting successful re-entry for people coming home from prison.

This event is presented in conjunction with The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls.

About the Speakers

Formed in 1998, Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison provides college education, life skills and re-entry support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women to help them make a positive impact on their own lives, their families and communities, resulting in lower rates of recidivism, incarceration and poverty. Bruce MacLeod joined the Board in 1999 served for two terms as President of the Board. He is currently the President of the Board of Trustees for the Cathedral for St. John the Divine.

Robert Pollock is PEN America’s Prison Writing coordinator. For over a decade, he has worked with the justice system and its intersection with the arts. He is an ongoing participant in Rehabilitation Through the Arts, Musicambia, Refoundry, and Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections Advisory Committee. He has collaborated with the Fortune Society, Osborne Association, and participated in workshops and panels at several universities to advocate for the power of the arts in prison education and rehabilitation. As a visual artist, he illustrated the picture book for children of incarcerated parents, Sing Sing Midnight, which is used in therapeutic settings around the country. As a singer-songwriter, his compositions have been heard at the Obama White House, the RFK Human Rights Foundation, Create Justice forums, the New York Ethical Society, and Carnegie Hall.

Lanetta Hill is a Senior Case Manager at Services for the Underserved, which provides a number of services for individuals and families dealing with homelessness. She served 13 years of a 15 year sentence. Ms. Hill is a single parent with four children. She is a motivational speaker utilizing her experiences to inspire and educate others.

Samuel Cabassa is a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate, certified by the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services at the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation. At Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of The City University of New York, Mr. Cabassa trains others to become certified Recovery Coaches. He has a daughter and four grandchildren and enjoys reading, college and pro football, and for the past 40 years, he has enjoyed cooking vegetarian food. From 1982 to 2017, Mr. Cabassa served a 34-year prison sentence in various upstate correctional facilities.

Elizabeth Howard is currently the Cathedral's Madeleine L'Engle Fellow. Her books include Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back (editor, Easton Studio Press, 2015), A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R. Godine, 2015), and Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie (Thornwillow Press, 2011).