Award-winning poet and author Jimmy Santiago Baca, illiterate at the age of 21 when he was incarcerated in a maximum security facility for selling drugs, will be the keynote speaker for Behind Bars But Still Human: A Conference on Education as the Key to Rehabilitation. The day-long conference, presented by ABC Prison Literacy, takes place on Saturday, October 27, at Nassau Presbyterian Church and will explore the importance of providing educational opportunities to the inmate population.

Today Baca is widely-regarded as one of the nation’s top poets, reaching out to people not only through his poetry and books, but also through the writing workshops he conducts for children and adults at locations that include schools, colleges, reservations, barrios, ghettos, and correctional facilities. He is the winner of the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, and the International Hispanic Heritage Award. His memoir, “A Place to Stand” (Grove/Atlantic, 2001), received the prestigious International Prize as well as the Barnes and Noble Discovery Award.

In 2005 Baca created the Cedar Tree Foundation to support his vision of giving the opportunity to all incarcerated people to become educated. Through this foundation and his own private efforts, Baca works to improve literacy among correctional facility inmates.

Behind Bars But Still Human: A Conference on Education as the Key to Rehabilitation, Saturday, October 27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Nassau Presbyterian Church, Nassau Street at Palmer Square. Registration fee: $20; students free. Lunch: $8. Mail checks made payable to ABC Prison Literacy to: Marcia Van Dyck, 2 Queenston Place, Princeton 08540. Registration will also be taken at the door. Teachers will receive in-service credit for attending the conference. For more information E-mail vandyck@unidial.com or abcddd@verizon.net or call Marcia Van Dyck at 609-924-7597 or Lois Young at 609-924-0667.

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