Associate Professor of Sociology James Sutton was the keynote speaker at the Southern Tier Transformation Plan Peer Advocate Conference, where he joined a diverse group of speakers and panelists from Upstate New York in examining incarceration, reentry, mental health challenges and addiction.
Held on June 29, at the Ramada Geneva Lakefront in Geneva, N.Y., the conference was hosted in partnership with Finger Lakes Parent Network, Inc. and the Elmira Psychiatric Center.
According to organizers, the conference provided peer advocates, service providers and others with an overview of issues pertaining to the criminal justice system, with special emphasis on agencies and resources that are available in the local community. They also discussed lived experiences of individuals who have personally encountered the criminal justice system; basic rights of individuals when interacting with the criminal justice system; and prevention and intervention strategies found at various stages of the criminal justice system. Attendees gained insight to better navigate the criminal justice system, organizers said.
Sutton earned his B.A. from California State University, Long Beach, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Ohio State University. His teaching and research is focused in the areas of criminology, deviant behavior and juvenile delinquency. He has studied prisons and related issues for the past 17 years, and he has taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges since 2012.
Other presenters included James Schuler, intensive case manager at Youth Advocate Programs; Rebecca Smith, an AmeriCorps Fellow with the Legal Assistance of Western New York in Geneva; Diane Johnston, director of community services, Ontario County; Alice Haskins, chief correction officer, Ontario County Jail; Jennifer Michael, on-site director of mental health at Ontario County Jail and the regional director of mental health for CBH Medical P.C. Inc.; Lynn Seward, director of community-based services for the Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency; and Len DeFrancesco, Court Watch project coordinator for the League of Women Voters.
More information can be requested by contacting the Finger Lakes Parent Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.