In September 2012, the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) hosted a forum on life after prison as part of its series, Dialogue: Social Issues Examined Through the Playwright’s Pen. The forum coincided with performances at the Boston Center for the Arts of The MotherF**ker with the Hat, a play by Stephen Andy Guirgis about prisoner reentry.

Andrea J. Cabral, then sheriff of Suffolk County and secretary of public safety in Massachusetts, moderated the forum in BCA’s Calderwood Pavilion, the same theater where SpeakEasy Stage Company was putting on the play. The four panelists work for nonprofit organizations primarily involved in assisting ex-offenders in making the transition back into society: Daniel Cordon, director of transitional employment at the Haley House in Roxbury and an ex-offender; Lyn Levy, founder and executive director of Span, Inc. in Boston; Gary Little, mentor coordinator at Span and an ex-offender; and Janet Rodriguez, founding president and CEO of SoHarlem in New York, which trains women given alternative sentences for nonviolent offenses to produce functional and wearable art.

What follows is an edited and abridged transcript of their discussion of “Life After Prison: A Different Kind of Sentence?” and is based on the Boston Center for the Arts recording of this segment of Dialogue, which examines social issues through an artistic lens. A discussion period with the audience is summarized because the questions are not clearly audible and not all questioners stated their names and identities.


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