What is a Transitional Conference?

A transitional conference is a meeting between someone incarcerated and his/her family members, and possibly community members, to prepare for the transition from prison or jail to the community.

Feedback from past participants

“Just having a third party there was soothing and brought the uneasiness down.”

“Very non-threatening atmosphere and was easier to speak about topics in the open.”

“It allowed us to address issues, to listen to each other.”

“It gives you hope that things might get better at a time when things are bleak.”


The Transitional Conferencing process begins with meetings between the program facilitator and the person preparing for release. During this meeting, the person decides whether Transitional Conferencing is a good fit for them and, if so, works with the facilitator to develop a list of people in the family and community with whom they would like to meet before release.

Next, the facilitator contacts those identified as potential participants and explains the transitional conferencing process. If these potential participants agree that Transitional Conferencing could be helpful for them, the facilitator arranges the conference between the person incarcerated and family and community members.

During the conference, the facilitator helps the participants discuss difficult topics, stick to ground rules set by the group, maintain a level of respectful behavior and ensure that everyone has a chance to express their thoughts and opinions.

All conference participants respond to questions like:

  • What are your concerns, issues and feelings about the transitional process?

  • What are some obstacles that you think might impede a smooth transition?

  • What can you each do to help the situation?

Participants then create a plan for how each will be involved preparing for and following release.