ELMSFORD, New York (August, 2017)  The Westchester Library System is pleased to announce plans for a series of public programs called Community Conversations: Criminal Justice, Yesterday and Today, to be held in October, 2017.  In collaboration with the Sing Sing Prison Museum and funded by the Westchester Community Foundation, the series will focus on the 200-year history of Sing Sing and its impact on prison reform, as well as current issues of incarceration, reform, rehabilitation and re-entry.

In an effort to encourage participation from residents throughout Westchester County, the  Community Conversations will be held at six library locations: Ossining Public Library (October 5), New Rochelle Public Library (October10), Yonkers Riverfront Library (October 12), Grinton I. Will Library (Yonkers) (October 17), John C. Hart Memorial Library (October 26), and Mount Kisco Public Library (October 28), each with a different set of experts and engaging panelists.

Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution, will moderate each panel discussion with local historians, service providers, ex-offenders and distinguished lecturers on prison history, reform and rehabilitation. Each presentation will be followed by time for questions and conversation with members of the audience about the past and future of the American criminal justice system.

In announcing the program, Terry Kirchner, Westchester Library System Executive Director, said, “We are delighted to present Community Conversations: Criminal Justice, Yesterday and Today, working with the Sing Sing Prison Museum and funded by the Westchester Community Foundation.  Members of the public are encouraged to take advantage of this important opportunity to engage in the national conversation about the future direction of criminal justice in America. This project also fosters our commitment to collaborate with member libraries and local nonprofit organizations in our collective efforts to provide information to the public. ”

Laura Rossi, Executive Director of the Westchester Community Foundation, said that the Foundation is pleased to promote the Sing Sing Prison Museum by supporting this exciting partnership with the Westchester Library System. “The time is ripe for community dialogue on incarceration and rehabilitation, she said, “and the new museum at Sing Sing is being designed to engage and educate visitors on these complex issues. What’s most important to learn by participating in the Community Conversations is that every individual life has value – victims, the incarcerated, ex-offenders and corrections officers.”

Westchester Library System (WLS) provides services and supports that enable Westchester’s 38 public libraries to empower and improve communities with extensive yet free access to information, technology, and personal development tools. WLS is supported by funds from member fees, federal, state and county government, foundations, corporations, and individuals.

A work in progress, the Sing Sing Prison Museum recently received its charter, approved by the Board of Regents of the New York State Education Department. The organization expects to move forward on the capital preservation and rehabilitation work of two important prison structures at Sing Sing in the near future.  The 1936 Power House will be used as the main museum building, with the expectation of connecting it to the 1825 Cell Block, so that visitors can experience what it must have been like to be imprisoned there over the last two hundred years.

The public is invited to attend any or all of the Community Conversations free of charge.