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The Atonement Project: Restorative Justice and the Arts

10 Feb

The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) is excited to announce an opportunity to be part of its new Atonement Project initiative—an arts-based restorative justice program that seeks to start meaningful conversations about crime, incarceration, and reconciliation.

Anyone whose life has been touched by crime or incarceration in any way is invited to join a weekly Atonement Project arts workshop in either Detroit or Lansing. Workshops are facilitated by University of Michigan students enrolled in PCAP Director Ashley Lucas’ Atonement Project course. Workshops began February 1 (Detroit) and February 4 (Lansing) and run for 12 weeks. Contact Ashley Lucas at lucasash@umich.edu for more information or to register. You are welcome to join even if you already missed the first weeks of the workshop.

Project Description

The Atonement Project is an innovative, arts-based approach to addressing issues that many crime victims and people who have committed crimes find difficult to discuss (i.e. forgiveness and reconciliation). We wish to create spaces, both through an interactive website and through arts workshops in prisons and in communities affected by crime, where the arts and creativity can help us bridge the divides created by crime and incarceration. The ultimate goal of the Atonement Project is to bring together people whose lives have been shaped by crime so that we can join our efforts to prevent further harm to our families, loved ones, and communities.

Drawing on a broad variety of art forms, including visual art, creative writing, theater, music, poetry, and dance, the Atonement Project uses creative expression to engage participants in tough conversations about crime, punishment, and reconciliation. Technology, including the Atonement Project website, video, digital photography, social media, and interactive online tools will enable web users to have access to the products of our arts workshops and participate in larger conversations about forgiveness and atonement.

The use of creativity and art in examining issues related to atonement and reconciliation is a central component of the Atonement Project. Many people respond more openly to and are able to connect with the experiences of others when they read their stories and experience visual art. The art created in our workshops and displayed on our website will focus on the following three areas of the atonement process:

  • Acknowledgement: Recognizing how we have hurt and how we have been hurt by others.
  • Apology: Apologizing to those we have hurt, and apologizing to ourselves for the hurt we have caused ourselves.
  • Atonement: Atoning through direct actions in our community, with people we have hurt as well as ourselves.

Community Workshops

Anyone whose life has been touched by crime or incarceration in any way is welcome to participate in community workshops, and there is no cost involved in participation. Workshops will take place once a week for two hours and will run for twelve weeks. We ask that participants try to come to all workshops, but we understand that not everyone who participates will be able to attend every single week.

Each workshop will be a space for participants to collaborate as a group on creative writing, performance, and/or visual art. No prior artistic training or previous affiliation with PCAP is required. Everyone is welcome, and no particular skill set is necessary for participation.

Detroit Workshop

Saturdays, 1-3pm

February 1-April 19, 2014

U-M Detroit Center (South Studio)

3663 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201

Lansing Workshop

Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30pm

February 4-April 22, 2014

Michigan State University

Snyder-Phillips Hall C301
362 Bogue Street (close to the intersection of Bogue and Grand River)
East Lansing, MI 48825

Contact Ashley Lucas at lucasash@umich.edu to register.

About the Prison Creative Arts Project

The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) was founded in 1990 with the mission to collaborate with incarcerated adults, incarcerated youth, urban youth and the formerly incarcerated to strengthen our community through creative expression. Housed in the University of Michigan’s Residential College, faculty and students work with community members both inside and outside prisons to engage in theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, slam poetry, and music.

More information, including a link to the Atonement Project website (which we hope to launch later this month) will appear on this blog soon.

Meanwhile, my dear friend Margarita Mooney (a sociologist at Yale) visited our class and wrote a fantastic blog entry of her own that explains our work beautifully.  Thank you, Margarita, for your support of the Atonement Project and for your wonderful visit to the Atonement Project class!

Play in Tehran Draws Attention to Juvenile Executions in Iran

24 Jul

My dear friend Jules Odendahl-James–an excellent dramaturg and scholar who shares my interest in prison theatre work–forwarded me a link to this article about an interview-based play in Tehran about juveniles on death row in Iran.  Another really interesting and beautiful play on a similar topic was written by my good friend and former colleague Mark Perry.  A New Dress for Mona describes the life and death of Mona Mahmudnizhad, who is considered a martyr of the Baha’i faith because the Iranian government executed her for her beliefs in 1983.  Mona was seventeen at the time of her death.  Amnesty International and many other human rights groups have taken stands against the execution of juveniles, but the practice continues in Iran. The United States outlawed the execution of juveniles in 2005 (not very long ago by international human rights standards), but we still sentence juveniles to life without parole.  Amnesty International reports:

There are at least 2,500 people in the US serving life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for crimes committed when they were under 18 years old. The United States is believed to stand alone in sentencing children to life without parole. Although several countries technically permit the practice, Amnesty International knows of no cases outside the US where such a sentence has been imposed in recent years.

We need far more theatre and other types of art to draw attention to what happens to young people all over the world.  Congratulations and many thanks to the Iranian theatre practitioners do this work and to Mark Perry who writes from the United States about Iran and the Baha’i faith.  May your work have many audiences, and may our governments evolve to end juvenile executions and life without parole.

Trayvon Martin and the Justice We Cannot Seem to Reach

15 Jul

What I meant to write when I sat down at my computer this morning was a post about our second trip to the Maré favela here in Rio de Janeiro (You can read about our first visit to the favela here.), but all I can think about is Trayvon Martin and what his family must be feeling this morning.  Many people are writing quite eloquently about their sense of despair, powerlessness, and anger about the acquittal of George Zimmerman.  My favorite piece so far was posted by Frank Leonard on the Huffington Post.

As both the child of a currently incarcerated man and as someone who spends a lot of time seeing the damage that prisons do to people, I never feel like rejoicing when I hear news of another person being sentenced to a prison term.  That said, I also believe very deeply in the notion that governments should attempt to mete out fair and equitable justice, that every human life should be protected by the law, and that those who take a life should be called upon by the state to take responsibility for their actions, face the consequences, and make efforts towards atonement.  The Florida court and jury that acquitted George Zimmerman failed to ardently pursue justice, and they have failed not just Trayvon Martin’s family and loved ones but our entire nation.  If Trayvon Martin’s life is not worthy of even a conviction for manslaughter, then we cannot really claim to value any individual life in the United States.  Fundamentally, a person died, and there is no dispute about who shot him.  The fact that Zimmerman was not even convicted of manslaughter legalistically defines Trayvon Martin as less than human.

But, of course, we do value some lives and not others.  The specter of racism clouds every judicial process I have yet witnessed in my travels to prisons around the world.  All of the women we met in the theatre workshop at the prison here in Rio last week were phenotypically Black. (I realize that the terminology and understandings of race are significantly different in Brazil than they are in the U.S., and I make no claim to being able to parse this subtly.  I merely observe that whether these women self-identify as Black or not, every single incarcerated woman in the Teatro na Prisão workshop we witnessed would be phenotypically coded as Black or mixed race in the U.S.)  When I performed my one-woman play in a women’s prison in Canada in 2011, my friend who had taken me to the prison told me afterwards not to be fooled by the fact that I did not see any First Nations women in the prison; she reported that most of them were in solitary confinement.  In the small group of incarcerated women I met in an Irish prison in Dublin in 2005, I encountered two Black Panamanian women and a high number of other foreigners, mostly Eastern Europeans. Of course, in prisons across the U.S. we disproportionately lock up Blacks, Latina/os, Native Americans, the poor, and the undereducated.

None of this is news, and perhaps that’s why it hurts so much.  We continue to see the glaring inequalities in the ways in which we meet out justice, and so little changes across time and even various systems of government that it’s hard to stay hopeful.  I ceased believing in the righteousness or infallibility of any nation’s criminal justice system decades ago, yet justice remains a goal and a value that we must unceasingly pursue.  The lives of young people like Trayvon Martin are worth defending, and we cannot let this latest blow to human dignity, social justice, and individual freedom stop us in the interminable but necessary struggle to create the kind of world in which we would want all people to live–one in which the sight of a Black child in a hoodie would not inspire such fear that homicidal force would be anyone’s gut reaction.

My heart today is with Trayvon Martin’s family and friends, with one of my former students who said on Twitter that this verdict once again displayed the worth of his Black body, with the Black man I met in Louisiana who is serving ninety-nine years for stealing a toaster because of that state’s equivalent of the Three Strikes Law, with all who mourn for justice and those who are brave enough to continue to hope for something different in our future.

Sesame Street characters have parents in prison

18 Jun

I didn’t realize that it was possible for Sesame Street to tug at my heartstrings even more than it did when Big Bird got the news that the beloved grocer Mr. Hooper passed away when I was a child in the 1980s.  However, Sesame Street is now addressing one of the great crises that children in this country face today: parental incarceration.  Both a human and a muppet character on the show discuss the pain of having a father in prison, and the Sesame Street website provides a very useful tool kit and activities for caretakers of children with an incarcerated parent.  The tools are designed to help young children, ages 3 to 8, but their lessons are useful for all of us with an incarcerated loved one.

Thank you, folks at Sesame Street, for your attention to this serious issue and your compassion for children grappling with a frightening experience which will undoubtedly shape their lives.

Shaka Senghor on Prisoners and Technology

11 Jun

My dear friend and Prison Creative Arts Project Associate Shaka Senghor gave a talk about prisoners and their lack of access to technology at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City last week.  Check out the video of his speech on his website.

 

Shakespeare in Prisons Conference, Nov. 15-16, 2013

28 May

Shakespeare at Notre Dame is pleased to announce the Shakespeare in Prisons Conference hosted by the University of Notre Dame on Friday, November 15, and Saturday, November 16, 2013.

Featuring keynote addresses and film screenings by Curt Tofteland (founding director of Shakespeare Behind Bars) and Tom Magill (founder of the Educational Shakespeare Center and director of the Irish film Mickey B ), the conference aims to bring together artists and educators engaged in transformational arts programs using Shakespeare in prisons across the USA (and the world) for an exploration and study of the effects such programming has on prison populations. The goal is to promote a collaborative learning forum where participants will be exposed to a diverse array of programs that all strive for a common result: the habilitation of the inmate’s mind, heart, body, and spirit.

Departing from the traditional academic conference structure, the Shakespeare in Prisons conference will focus on the craft and experiences of the practitioner—while allowing ample time for one-on-one networking and collaboration.

In addition to the keynotes and film screenings (and Q&A’s), attendees are invited to participate in workshops that explore innovative methodologies, as well as panel discussions that are designed to stimulate discussion about practitioner experiences and best practices within the industrial prison complex.

Registration is $25 and includes a dinner/reception on Friday night, lunch and dinner on Saturday, and admission to all workshops and film screenings. Online registration begins on Monday, June 10 via www.conferences.nd.edu . More information regarding the conference schedule, lodging information, and the availability of a limited number of bursaries to help with attendee expenses will be made available on June 10. In the meantime, please contact Scott Jackson at scottjackson@nd.edu  for more information.

We hope that you will join us for this unique gathering of like-minded individuals.

All the very best–

Scott Jackson, Peter Holland, and Curt Tofteland

—————–

About the speakers and host:

Curt L. Tofteland  is the founder of the internationally acclaimed Shakespeare Behind Bars (SBB) program. SBB has twelve programs in Kentucky and Michigan. He currently facilitates the adult Shakespeare Behind Bars/Michigan program at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon Heights and SBB’s first co-gender, court-ordered, juvenile Shakespeare Behind/Beyond Bars programs at the Ottawa County Juvenile Detention Center and the Juvenile Justice Institute. From 1995-2008, he facilitated the SBB/KY program at the Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, producing and directing fourteen Shakespeare productions. His 2003 SBB/KY production of The Tempest  was chronicled by Philomath Films, producing the documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars , which premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and went on to be screened at 40+ film festivals worldwide, winning eleven awards. He is a national and international speaker, having lectured at over forty colleges and universities across the United States and at TEDx Berkeley, TEDxEast (NYC), and TEDx Macatowa. For his work as a Prison Arts Practitioner he was awarded fellowships from the Fulbright and Petra Foundations, as well as a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bellarmine University. He is a founding member and past president of the Shakespeare Theatre Association, an international service organization for theatres that produce the works of William Shakespeare. He is a published essayist and poet, currently authoring the book, Behind the Bard-Wire: Reflection, Responsibility, Redemption, & Forgiveness…The Transformative Power of Art, Theatre, and Shakespeare.  From 1989-2008, he served as producing artistic director of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, producing fifty Shakespeare productions, directing twenty-five, and acting in eight. A trailer for Shakespeare Behind Bars  can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2kr5wV_AiQ More information on Curt’s work can be found at http://www.shakespearebehindbars.org/

Tom Magill  is an ex-prisoner who transformed his life through arts education while in prison for violence. While incarcerated he met his enemy—and his enemy became his teacher. On release he earned a B.A. (Hons) in Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Birmingham and an M.A. in Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. He is an award-winning filmmaker, drama facilitator, actor, writer, director, and producer. He specializes in utilizing Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed” methodology and the works of William Shakespeare in transforming community and prison settings. After training with Michael Bogdanov, he became his and Augusto Boal’s personal representative in Northern Ireland. In 1999 he founded the Educational Shakespeare Company (ESC) to develop drama and film with prisoners and ex-prisoners. ESC is an award-winning arts education charity, empowering marginalized people to find their voice and tell their stories through film. In 2007 he directed Mickey B , an award-winning feature film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth  cast with prisoners from Maghaberry maximum-security prison. For his film direction he has received the 2011 Justice in the Community Award (from the Northern Ireland Department of Justice), the 2008 Roger Graef Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film at the Koestler Awards (for Mickey B ), the Arthur Koestler Award for Prison Drama in 2004 and 2006 (for Inside Job  and The Big Question , respectively), and the Impetus Human Rights Award in 2005, 2006, and 2007 (for Bridging the Divide ). He has presented his film work in Britain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Nigeria, South Korea, and the United States. More information on Tom’s work can be found at http://esc-film.com/ A trailer of Mickey B  can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFKMIswx5VY Peter Holland  holds the McMeel Family Chair in Shakespeare Studies and is the Associate Dean for the Arts at the University of Notre Dame. He is one of the central figures in performance-oriented Shakespeare criticism, served as Director of the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon before coming to Notre Dame in 2002. He is editor of Shakespeare Survey  as well as a number of other series. Among his books are English Shakespeares: Shakespeare on the English Stage in the 1990s  and a major study of Restoration drama The Ornament of Action . He has also edited many Shakespeare plays, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream  for the Oxford Shakespeare series. In 2007, he completed publication of a five volume series of collections of essays entitled Rethinking British Theatre History . In 2007-08, he served as President of the Shakespeare Association of America. He was elected an honorary fellow at Trinity Hall, his alma mater and one of the 31 colleges that comprise the University of Cambridge. His Arden edition of Coriolanus  was released in early 2013.

Shakespeare at Notre Dame  is a program that recognizes the centrality of the study of Shakespeare in humanistic pedagogy at the University of Notre Dame. The creation of the “Shakespeare Initiative” in 2001 sought to broaden the Shakespeare offerings on campus and establish the permanence of this new tradition for an audience of students, faculty, the South Bend community at-large, and a national and international audience. To that end, the current programs and future prospects that comprise Shakespeare at Notre Dame have created a regional center for Shakespearean scholarship, production, educational outreach, and academic research by enmeshing programs as far-reaching and diverse as Actors From The London Stage, the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, visiting guest artists and lecturers, touring productions, and new media library collections; ensuring Notre Dame’s status as a nationally visible—and the Midwest’s pre-eminent—venue for Shakespeare Studies. Find out more at http://shakespeare.nd.edu/

Straight Talk: A Support Group for Prisoners’ Families in Durham, NC

13 May

Despite the fact that we number in the millions in the U.S. alone, prisoners’ families do not have very many opportunities to come together to share our experiences.  Fortunately, some folks in Durham, North Carolina, have formed an organization to support one another.  Read more about it here.

Good Friday, Medical Care in Prison, & the Anniversary of Pepper Ramirez’s Death

29 Mar

The following post was originally delivered as a reflection on Good Friday as part of a service at St. Titus Episcopal Church in Durham, North Carolina, in 2011.  My husband and I had been asked to write reflections based on Bible verses connected to Good Friday, and this was mine.  A dear friend of my father’s died in prison shortly before Good Friday the year that I wrote this, and I post this here today to honor his memory and to remark upon the sad state of medical care in Texas prisons, which only appears to have gotten worse since I wrote this. –Ashley Lucas

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Luke 23:34

                  We tend to think of forgiveness as something personal—a thing we ask of those whom we have wronged directly: the person whose car we rear-ended, the loved one to whom we spoke in anger, the acquaintance about whom we thought unkind things.  This sort of forgiveness gets us through each day by helping to mend our relationships with those around us, repairing and strengthening our ties to those with whom we interact each day.  Without it we would be in shambles, but God’s forgiveness is much larger than we can imagine.

When Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.  He was not addressing his executioners, who had just nailed him to the cross.  He was speaking to God, his Father, asking a parent to forgive not just those who were there that terrible day at Calvary.  Jesus asked God to forgive each of us throughout the millennia that would follow his death because he knew we would continue to harm one another and that we would need to be forgiven for an enormity of offenses.

As the child of a prisoner and a scholar who studies incarceration, I think often about the fact that Jesus was a prisoner executed by a government with the approval—indeed the zealous insistence—of the populous.  We in North Carolina are subject to both state and federal governments which execute those around us, and the majority of our fellow citizens are in favor of this practice, though few of us know much about life on death row or the individuals who are being killed.  However we personally feel about the death penalty, the fact that it is part of our culture and our system of government is well-known and at times hotly debated.  We know that this is a thing we do, even if we don’t fully understand it.

I awoke this morning wanting to speak about offenses that we almost never realize we have committed.  Just before last night’s Maundy Thursday service, I learned that my father’s best friend had died.  My father has been held captive in Texas prisons since 1994, and over the years he has grown close to a fellow prisoner named Pepper Ramirez.  I never got to meet Pepper, and all I know of him is what my father has told me in letters and in visits.  From what I understand, Pepper ended up in prison because he killed a man who was harming his sister.  Though I do not know the length of his sentence, I am sure he served well over a decade, perhaps two.  Pepper was a good friend to my father, told funny stories, and made big plans for what he would do when he got out of prison.  He had a large and loving family who desperately wanted him home and who remained steadfast throughout the many years of his incarceration.

In the last few years, my father’s news about Pepper always had to do with his health.  Pepper suffered from severe glaucoma which required medical treatment.  Medical care in Texas prisons is a terrifying thing.  In order for a prisoner who is held in a rural area to receive treatment, he or she must be handcuffed, shackled, and chained around the waist to another prisoner.  These patients are then loaded onto a bus and driven to another prison where they may spend a week waiting to be transported to the medical prison.  For men on my father’s unit, the Robertson Unit where the men wait before they are taken to the medical unit is one of the most violent prisons in the state.  Several years ago when my father’s friend Pepper was on his way back from the medical unit where he had been treated for his glaucoma, he was held at Robertson for several days.  The violence surrounding him at Robertson was so stressful that he had a heart attack and was taken back to the medical unit for open heart surgery.  Pepper never received even one doctor’s visit for follow up treatment after his open heart surgery.  He would not risk enduring the trip back to the medical prison.  My father tells me that many men would rather die from their ailments than have to take that trip.  It is widely believed by both prisoners and staff that the process of receiving medical care in Texas prisons is deliberately constructed to discourage the ill from seeking treatment.  It costs the state less to let the elderly and infirm die of their own accord.

Earlier this week my father’s prison was undergoing a shake down.  Pepper has been very frail in the years since his heart surgery, and he collapsed after carrying his possessions either to or from the gym.  I do not know if an emergency response team could have saved his life, but there was not one on hand.  The only doctor on staff is the elderly country doctor who delivered most of the guards who work in that prison, and even he is not on duty every day.  Pepper Ramirez died this week on a cement floor far from his family, and I feel responsible for his passing.

We live in a country where we think we know what justice is, where we are told that get-tough-on-crime legislation makes us safer, where we are encouraged not to think of prisoners as people but as beings not like us who have forfeited their civil and human rights by being irredeemably bad.  The jury that convicted Pepper Ramirez likely did not know that he would not be given adequate health care.  They may not have considered what his family would endure year after year as they watched him deteriorate.  Even if they had thought about these things, they may have felt that he, and perhaps also his family, deserved what they were getting.  I am not a witness to Pepper’s crime, but I am a secondary witness to his character and his suffering.  He was a good friend to my father, and for this I will be forever grateful.  Please pray today for Pepper’s family.  Pray for my father and the other men who lost a friend and who saw too well the fate that might await each of them.  Pray for all of us that we might not forget the lives and struggles of those who are deliberately hidden from us.  Pray that we find ways to end violence, addiction, and suffering through compassion, treatment, and forgiveness.  Pray for guidance to stop cycles of institutional violence.  Pray that we may learn not to be passive bystanders to the suffering of others.

Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do.

Call for Submissions of Writing by Prisoners’ Families

25 Mar

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons

Call for Papers

Special Issue on Prisoners,

Their Families and Loved Ones

General Information

The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons (JPP) is a prisoner written, academically oriented

and peer reviewed, non-profit journal, based on the tradition of the penal press. It brings

the knowledge produced by prison writers together with academic arguments to

enlighten public discourse about the current state of carceral institutions. This is

particularly important because with few exceptions, definitions of deviance and

constructions of those participating in these defined acts are incompletely created by

social ‘scientists’, media representatives, politicians, and legal and justice industrialists.

These analyses most often promote self-serving interests, omit the voices of those most

affected, and facilitate repressive and reactionary penal policies and practices. As a

result, the JPP attempts to acknowledge the accounts, experiences, and criticisms of the

criminalized by providing an educational forum that allows women and men to participate

in the development of research that concerns them directly. In an age where `crime` has

become lucrative and exploitable, the JPP exists as an important alternate source of

information that competes with popularly held stereotypes and misconceptions about

those who are currently, or those who have in the past, faced the deprivation of liberty.

Prisoners, Their Families and Loved Ones

While imprisonment has been the focus of a number of important studies, the impacts of

imprisonment on the families and loved ones of prisoners has rarely surfaced in

academic discussions. The difficulties faced by prisoners who wish to maintain links to

those outside prison walls has also been under-researched. The Journal of Prisoners on

Prisons invites prisoners, their families and loved ones to contribute articles that discuss

their experiences of enforced separation including the challenges and negotiations of

maintaining relationships affected by imprisonment.

This issue will offer prisoners, their families and loved ones the opportunity to voice their

concerns so their life experiences can be acknowledged and their insights appreciated.

In doing, so it will shed light on the struggles of population that has traditionally been

overlooked in society and to a greater extent within criminology.

Submission Guidelines

Prisoners and former prisoners are encouraged to submit papers, collaborative essays,

discussions transcribed from tape, book reviews, and photo or graphic essays.

The journal also encourages submissions of illustrations, drawings, and paintings to

appear within the special issue or as cover art. Artistic work should also include a short

description of the inspiration for the work.

The journal does not usually publish fiction, and does not generally publish poetry.

The journal does not publish material that focuses on the writer’s own legal case,

although the use of the writer’s personal experiences as an illustration of a broader topic

is encouraged.

The journal will not publish any subject matter that advocates hatred, sexism, racism,

violence, or that supports the death penalty.

Articles should be between 1,000 and 10, 000 words, and maybe handwritten (legibly) or

typed, in English, French or Spanish. The author may elect to write anonymously or

under a pseudonym.

Editors look for developed pieces that address topics substantially. Manuscripts go

through a preliminary reading and then are sent to review by the board, and those of

suitable interest are returned to the author with comments or suggestions. Editors work

with writers on composition and form, and where necessary may help the author with

referencing and bibliographic information, not readily available in prisons.

If your submission is not accepted for publication in the special issue, the Editorial board

will consider it for a later publication.

Submission Process

If you are interested in contributing to the JPP please your writing and/or art to:

Journal of Prisoners on Prisons

c/o University of Ottawa Press

542 King Edward,

Ottawa, Ontario

K1N 6N5

Canada

Please include: a clear and accurate contact details for the author, and a brief

description of the work. Once your work has been received and reviewed you will be

notified by the JPP.

Additional Information

For more information regarding this project or the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, feel

free contact the editors of the special issue through mail at the JPP office or at the e-mail

addresses listed below:

Stacey Hannem

Assistant Professor

Wilfrid Laurier University

shannem@wlu.ca

Erin McCuaig
PhD Candidate
Queen’s University Belfast
eringayle@hotmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you,

Stacey and Erin

StoryCorps Interview with a Formerly Incarcerated Mother and Her Daughter

23 Feb

A few years ago I had the privilege of directing an undergraduate honors thesis written by Anita Rao, who was then a senior at UNC Chapel Hill.  Anita took on an ambitious original research project, interviewing formerly incarcerated women in the Triangle Area of North Carolina about the time they spent as part of an arts workshop in a women’s prison in Raleigh.  Anita’s senior thesis was awarded highest honors and now sits in bound form in the UNC library.  Her research inspired me to write an article about the same prison arts workshop for a forthcoming special issue of the academic journal American Music.

After graduating from UNC, Anita went to work for National Public Radio’s StoryCorps program, where I know she is doing wonderful things.  She recently sent me an email with this link to a StoryCorps clip in which a formerly incarcerated mother and her daughter interview one another about their experiences of the mother’s imprisonment.

Thank you, Anita, for the great work you are doing!  We need many more thoughtful young people like you to help bring stories of women and families’ experiences of incarceration to light.

New Beginnings: The Prison Creative Arts Project and the University of Michigan

21 Feb

Those of you who know something about the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) might recognize at least one of the very silly people in this picture.

Buzz & Ash

Buzz Alexander–the taller of us–founded PCAP in 1990 at the University of Michigan, and in the years that followed Buzz built this extraordinary program into the largest organization in the U.S. (and perhaps the world) that links university students and incarcerated youth and adults through arts programming.  PCAP sends undergraduates into Michigan prisons, juvenile detention centers, and urban high schools to facilitate arts workshops.  PCAP also hosts the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners, which displays over four hundred works of visual art from every prison in the Michigan Department of Corrections.  PCAP’s annual literary review publishes writing by Michigan prisoners, and the organizations many workshops host dozens of performances each year.  In fact, last week PCAP celebrated the performance of its 600th play.

Now I have the honor of succeeding Buzz in running this incredible organization.  As of January 1, 2013, I am a new Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama at the University of Michigan and the Director of PCAP, and I am deeply grateful to Buzz and to Janie Paul (the other long-serving member of the PCAP faculty and Buzz’s wife) for the years of preparations that went into the process of getting me hired at Michigan.  Many other people worked very hard to get me to Michigan, including Priscilla Lindsay, chair of the Dept. of Theatre & Drama; Dean Christopher Kendall of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, & Dance; and Angela Dillard, chair of the Residential College.  Half of my faculty appointment at Michigan is in Theatre & Drama (the field in which I was trained), and the other half is in the Residential College (RC) where PCAP will soon be moving.

PCAP has long lived in Michigan’s English Department because that’s where Buzz founded it.  Though PCAP will maintain connections to the English Department through Buzz and my husband Phil Christman, who will be teaching as a lecturer in the first year writing program in English, the PCAP’s administrative operations will move into the RC in Fall 2013. The PCAP staff–Sari Adelson, Shannon Deasy, and Vanessa Mayesky–and I will all have offices in the RC, while Buzz and Phil will be the PCAP faculty with offices  in English.  I also have an office in Theatre, and Janie, of course, has an office in Art & Design, which gives PCAP a strong presence on North Campus as well.

Buzz is considering retirement in the coming years but has not set a date for his retirement.  We hope to have a few semesters or years of working together before he stops teaching, though he will never truly leave PCAP or stop participating in its activities. (Thank goodness!)  Though I will undoubtedly do many things differently than Buzz has in the past–because I could never hope to fill his shoes completely–I endeavor to honor the incredible work that he has done and continues to do with hundreds of students, volunteers, and incarcerated people.  Buzz’s main purpose in bringing me to Michigan, and mine in coming here, is to protect PCAP’s sustainability so that this organization can thrive for twenty more years and beyond.

My husband Phil–a writer and former lecturer at North Carolina Central University–will play a significant role at PCAP as well.  Starting with the 2014 issue, he will be the editor of PCAP’s annual Review of Literature by Michigan Prisoners.

We have taken up residence in Ann Arbor, though neither of us will start teaching until Fall 2013.  Though we already miss many friends and colleagues at UNC, we are very happy to be at Michigan and plan to be here for years to come.  The PCAPers, colleagues at Michigan, and our neighbors have done much to welcome us and make us feel at home here. We are grateful for all the good will and kindness that is being shown to us, and we look forward to meeting all of the current PCAPers and to teaching our first Michigan students in the Fall.

Upcoming Performances of Excerpts of Doin’ Time

16 Nov

My friend and colleague Professor Kathy Perkins is hosting a performance of excerpts from my one-woman show Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass at the end of this month.  Kathy is a renowned lighting designer, and her students this semester needed something to light for their final project.  I will perform about half an hour of my play in conjunction with an hour-long student performance directed by Joseph Megel, who is also the director of Doin’ Time.  The performances are free and open to the public.  Please join us if you are in the area!

 

Drama 468 (Lighting Design) cordially invites you to our final design presentation on Nov. 29th (Thursday) at 5:00pm & Nov. 30th  (Friday) at 7:00pm in the Kenan Theatre where we will present:

 

Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, a one woman show, written and performed by DDA faculty

member Professor Ashley Lucas.  Through a series of monologues, Lucas will perform excerpts from her play

that examine the impact of incarceration on families.

 

AND

 

“RITES OF SPRING” – PERFORMING MODERNISM                  DEVISED BY COMM 263 CLASS

Using the historic rupture of the opening performance of the Rite of Spring as a prism, this performance of modernist

prose and poetry includes the works of  James Joyce, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolfe, T.S. Elliot, William Carlos Williams,

Marianne Moore and Samuel Beckett.

Both performances will be directed by Joseph Megel -Artist in Residence Department of Communication Studies

The Impending Execution of Robert Avila

28 Oct

Iris Morgenstern has to figure out how to say goodbye.

In her decades of teaching high school in El Paso, Texas, Iris has only had a few students who have stayed in her heart and her life for many years after they graduated.  She taught a boy named Robert Avila in the late 1980s, and today he is even dearer to Iris than he was when he captured her heart as a witty, energetic teenager with a knack for writing.

In an email to me about Robert, Iris wrote:

I met Robert was he was a sophomore in my English class at Bel Air High School. He was crazy enough to sign up for my class when he was a junior and again as a senior.  He has a  very quick mind and was able to analyze literature without any help often looking at different aspects of readings. His writing is usually humorous.

We have kept in touch on and off since then. He was in the Navy and has a 15 year old son.

Those are the basics by they don’t tell anyone about his kind gentle nature and his humorous spirit. He was always making comments about having to bend in half whenever he gave me a hug and asked where I could grow just a couple of inches — tall not wide with a twinkle & laugh in his eyes.

Iris and Robert on January 2, 2012, visiting through the glass.

I have seen Robert help kittens who were only days old. His huge hands held the tiny creatures while he fed them with a dropper or bottle. There was one I truly believed he willed to live.

These are the things Iris wanted me to know about Robert as she tried to figure out what to say to him in their last visit.  Robert now lives on death row, and on the day after his birthday–a few weeks ago–he was given an execution date: December 12, 2012.  Iris, Robert’s family, and some Catholic death penalty activists in El Paso lobbied to have Robert’s execution date changed because December 12 is also the feast day for Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The state of Texas acquiesced and changed the date of the execution, but for a few agonizing days we did not know if his date would be postponed or moved earlier.  This morning Iris wrote to let me know that Robert’s new execution date is April 10, 2013.  The faithful among us might say the Virgen gave him one more Christmas and four more months to live.

Iris is on her way to visit Robert this week, and before she found out about the new execution date, she believed this would be the last time she saw Robert alive.  Before he had the chance to invite her to witness his execution, Iris told Robert that she cannot watch the state kill someone she loves.  It would break her.  Instead, she planned this trip but does not know how to say goodbye.  Now perhaps she will have the chance to see him again before April, but her dilemma has not been solved.  The state of Texas still plans to take the life of a person Iris helped to nurture into adulthood, and these months of reprieve will prove all too short.

I didn’t know how to advise Iris when she called me asking for advice about how to say goodbye to Robert, but I was able to tell her about a young man named Matthew Puckett who was killed by the state of Mississippi on March 20, 2012.  I never knew Matt Puckett, but we had a mutual friend in common–a man named Matt Erickson who asked a whole lot of people to write letters to Matt Puckett in his last days.  I wrote to Matt Puckett shortly before his execution, and after his death, Matt Erickson told me that Matt Puckett had said that my letter and the others he received comforted him in the days leading up to his execution.  Matt Puckett’s mother received those letters after her son’s death and also relayed her gratitude for them to Matt Erickson.

I proposed to Iris that we do the same thing for Robert in these months that remain to him.  If you are reading this blog, chances are that you oppose the death penalty.  I have no idea what crime Robert Avila was accused of committing, and it’s not my job to try or judge him.  What I do know is that I don’t want him or anyone else to die in the name of justice.  The death penalty compounds one tragedy with another, and as a Texan, I do not want Robert to die in my name.  What I know is what a great person Iris Morgenstern is and that she truly loves Robert.  I stand with Iris, with Robert’s family, and with the many families, like my own, whose loved ones are kept from us by concrete, razor wire, and a legal system that values vengeance more than either compassion or public safety.

I’m asking you to write to Robert Avila while he is still with us.  It can be awkward or even intimidating to write to someone you don’t know, so don’t over think what you might say.  Just let him know that you care, that you oppose his execution, that he will not be forgotten.  You can send letters to Robert at this address:

Robert Avila
#999391
Polunsky Unit
3872 S. FM 350
Livingston, Texas  77351

Keep Robert and Iris in your thoughts.  When we see people for their full humanity, it ought to be harder for us to condone their deaths. Out of context, Robert might just look like a death row prisoner, but more than that, he will always be one of the students Iris Morgenstern loves best.

Performing at Illinois State Univ. and Lincoln Correctional for Women Sept. 19 and 21

15 Sep

About a year ago, a woman named Sherrin Fitzer contacted me out of the blue, asking if she could get a copy of the script of my play Doin’ Time to share with a group of women in an Illinois prison.  Sherrin works at Lincoln Correctional Center for Women and leads a theatre troupe comprised of incarcerated women; they call their ensemble Acting Out.  Sherrin and I exchanged many emails and conjured up a plan to collaborate.  Janet Wilson, director of the School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University in Bloomington, has collaborated with Sherrin and the women of Acting Out for many years, and Janet extended an invitation to me to perform Doin’ Time on her campus.  With support from many corners of the university, including the School of Theatre and Dance, Latino Studies, Crossroad’s Project, Honor’s Program, School of Social Work and the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences, Janet and Sherrin arranged a week-long residency for me:

My time at Illinois State will be very exciting, but what will happen at Lincoln Correctional later that week is the most amazing opportunity I’ve had in eight years of touring with this play.  The women in the Acting Out troupe have read my script and written their own monologues about visitation and families.  Sherrin has been emailing me drafts of their monologues, and in this manner the women and I have been able to respond to one another’s work.  They have written some very powerful pieces, which they’ve been rehearsing with Sherrin.  Doin’ Time‘s director, the incomparable Joseph Megel, will travel to Illinois with me, and we’ll spend all day on Thursday, September 20th in rehearsals inside the prison with the women of Acting Out.  We’ll weave their eleven monologues into my play, and we’ll all perform together on the afternoon of Friday, September 21st for an audience of 150 to 200 incarcerated women.  Two more incarcerated women will run the tech cues for the show.
I have performed in a handful of prisons now in the U.S., Ireland, and Canada, and I’ve seen prisoners perform plays of their own in Michigan, North Carolina, and Louisiana.  I’ve also conducted and participated in improvisational theatre workshops in quite a few prisons, but this will be the first time that I’ve actually performed in a play with incarcerated theatre makers and the first time that anyone ever wrote or performed new material in response to my play Doin’ Time.  I have never performed Doin’ Time with other actors, and though I haven’t yet met any of the women of Acting Out, I am already deeply moved by their words and their willingness to enter into this adventure with me.
If you are going to be near Bloomington this week, please come to the show!  I’ll be posting more about my time in Illinois after my trip there.

 

Support Resistencia Bookstore in Austin, TX

30 Jun

raulrsalinas and Ashley Lucas

My favorite bookstore in the whole world is a little place called Resistencia in Austin, Texas.  They have a fantastic selection of rare and out of print books as well as a wide variety of titles by Native American, Latina/o, and black authors.  They specialize in literature by people of color, poetry, Southwestern writers, and nonfiction on social justice issues, particularly incarceration.  (Those of you who know me can see clearly why this is my kind of bookstore!)  The books are just the beginning.  A very active and progressive community organization called Red Salmon Arts also resides in this bookstore (which is in truth more of a community center than anything else) and hosts a ton of really exciting readings and social justice events.  If I lived anywhere near Austin, I would be there all the time.

Resistencia’s founder, raulrsalinas (also sometimes written as Raul R. Salinas) was one of the greatest human beings I have ever known, and his life and legacy are honored every day by the work of the good folks who keep Resistencia and its programming going every day.

I first encountered raul’s poetry when I was in high school–about a year and a half after my father entered prison. raul spent many years in prisons all across the US and wrote some of the most enduring poetry of the Chicano Movement from solitary confinement, including his landmark poem “Un Trip Through the Mind Jail.”  His poems were the first pieces of writing that helped me begin to understand what my father experiences every day behind the walls.  raul’s strength, fortitude, and passion for life gave me hope that my father and our family might be able to endure this particular form of devastation.  After he got out of prison, he went home to Austin and spent the rest of his life doing work that served others–those in prison, struggling youth, and the people of his beloved Austin.

I cannot do raul justice through mere description.  Here’s a taste of him performing some of his poetry:

My senior honors thesis when I was an undergraduate at Yale dealt with the subject of poetry written by Latina/o prison–a project inspired by raul’s writings.

By the time I actually met raul in person, I was a graduate student at UC San Diego, living in Sherman Heights–a historic Chicana/o neighborhood in the heart of the city.  The next neighborhood over from mine hosted a Barrio Book Fair in 2004, and raul was one of many distinguished speakers.  I introduced myself to him and told him how much his work had shaped my understanding of incarceration and its impact on communities.  By the end of the day, he had invited me to perform my then very new play about the families of prisoners, Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, at Resistencia. He was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of the play, and in  hosting my performance, he not only provided opportunities for my work to grow but also introduced me to the incredible community of folks who make up Resistencia and Red Salmon Arts.

raul left this earth in 2008, and those of us who loved him continue to raise his name and honor his life by doing the kinds of community work he taught us to do.  The folks at Resistencia do an unfathomable amount of service for the people of Austin, for youth, for the queer community, African Americans, immigrants, Chicana/os, Native Americans, prisoners, and a whole bunch of other gente, and now in these tough economic times they need our support.  Here are a few things you can do:

  • BUY THEIR BOOKS!  You don’t have to be in Austin to do that.  I order books from them through the mail on a regular basis.  You can also order by phone: (512) 416-8885.  If you are lucky enough to be in Austin, check them out in person:

Resistencia Bookstore
1801-A South First St.
Austin, TX 78704

  •  GET THEIR EMAIL NEWSLETTER! I often learn of new book titles from the newsletter, which is awesome.  It also provides listings of all the exciting events happening in connection with Red Salmon and Resistencia. Like I said, if I lived within driving distance of Austin, I’d be there every week.  Send an email to revolu@swbell.net to sign up for the newsletter.
  • DONATE TO SUPPORT THEIR WORK.  You can mail a check made out to Resistencia Bookstore to the above address or use their PayPal account.

Pa’ la gente de Resistencia, with gratitude and admiration.

PCAP Linkage Art Exhibition, April 20 to May 5, 2012 in Holland, MI

23 Apr

The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) is an amazing program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, that takes undergrads into prisons, juvenile facilities, and urban high schools throughout Michigan to conduct collaborative arts workshops.  One of their other programs, the PCAP Linkage Project supports formerly incarcerated artists, writers, actors, dancers, and musicians who worked with PCAP during their imprisonment.  Working with returning citizens is far more difficult than working with folks in prison.  Though life in prison is terribly unpleasant, the incarcerated don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, how they’ll find work and make an income, or where they will sleep that night.  Returning citizens often find the free world very changed from what they knew before they entered prison, and those of them who became artists while in prison struggle to continue working creatively after their release because other concerns take precedence over the desire to make art.

On April 5, 2012, the PCAP Linkage Project held an amazing conference, organized by staff member Heather Wilson, for formerly incarcerated artists.  I had the privilege of getting to attend the day’s events in Detroit, meet the artists, and see some of their work.  Many of the artists brought drawings and paintings to the conference, and all the works of art collected that day are now on display at the Ridge Point Community Church at 340 104th Avenue in Holland, MI.  (That’s in the western part of the state, not far from Grand Rapids.)  Click here for more information about the exhibition which runs from now until May 5, 2012.  If you’re out in that neck of the woods, don’t pass up the opportunity to see these wonderful works of art.

All About My Mother: A Mother’s Day Tribute to the Woman Who Raised Me in a Prison Visiting Room; a post by Ashley Lucas

13 Apr

Children with an incarcerated family member have little choice about whether or not they will be able to maintain meaningful and regular contact with an imprisoned loved one.  The adult(s) who raise that child in the absence of incarcerated family members get to make all of the decisions and bear the many burdens of enabling a child to build relationships with his/her incarcerated relative or of choosing to keep that child from the person behind bars.  Either way, these adults inevitably struggle emotionally and intellectually (and almost always financially) with the many convoluted difficulties of parenting a child whose life is shaped by incarceration.  This Mother’s Day I pay tribute to all moms and grandmothers (biological, foster, adopted, or otherwise) raising children of incarcerated parents.

My mother never dreamed that she would one day be a prisoner’s wife.  My father’s incarceration came as a shock to our entire family–one that we are in some ways still reeling from seventeen and a half years later.  Our family was economically devastated by the legal battles we waged for years before my father’s conviction, and my mother had given up her teaching career when I was born so that she could stay home to raise me.  With my father gone from our home, she had to return to work and became the sole breadwinner for our family.  I was fifteen years old and very frightened and disoriented by the radical changes in my life.  My mother was certainly overwhelmed, confused, and bereft, but she dedicated herself to raising me and to enabling my father to continue to raise me from inside prison.

For my remaining years of high school, she drove me once a month eight hours in each direction to and from the prison.  She bought me stamps and stationary at every gift-giving holiday and helped me to scour craft stores for rubber stamps and ink pads to decorate my daily letters to my father.  She photographed practically every moment of my senior year of high school so that my father could see all that I was doing.  When I was accepted to Yale University and considered declining their offer, she convinced me that I had to take this opportunity, though it meant leaving her alone and not being able to visit either of my parents more than twice during the school year.   She helped me send back my financial aid package three times until they finally gave me enough scholarships and loans to make my tuition affordable, and she went further into debt herself to make sure I would be able to complete my undergraduate education.  She made me see that living each of my days to the fullest would ultimately be a greater gift to both her and my father than my staying home to be near them.

In the beginning, we understood nothing about how prisons operate, what my father’s days looked like, which of our fears were overblown, and which things we had not yet learned to fear.  My mother faced the challenge of not just figuring these things out for herself but also of finding ways to explain them to me.  She bears my suffering along with her own and never complains about the burdens I have given her to carry.  Together we learned this world of visits and lawyers and collect phone calls and the nightmares we do not name.   She taught me to pay attention to what the people around us also endure, to talk to the other families in the visiting room and listen to their stories.  She made me realize that we are not alone in this experience and that in many respects we are much more privileged than most.

One day when we were driving away from the prison, my mother stopped on the side of the road to pick up a woman who was walking down the dirt road into town.  She had obviously just had a visit at the prison, too.  She had no coat on that cold day, but she wasn’t hitchhiking, just walking home.  My mother drove her ten miles to the shabby house where she rented a room, and in the course of that car ride the woman told us that she had moved to this dusty little spot in the middle of nowhere Texas just to be near her husband in the prison.  Her whole family was in Oklahoma, and she couldn’t keep more than a part time job because of her disabilities.  She volunteered at a nursing home and walked the ten miles to the prison and back once a week.  She didn’t own a car, and the soles of her shoes were worn thin.  For months after that, every time we went to the prison, my mother scanned the road for that woman and always asked my father for any news he had of her and her husband.  My father contacted a prison ministry group who visit the prison and asked them if they would help find a coat and rides to and from the prison for this lady, but we never knew if any of the prison ministry folks ever caught up to her.  My mother watches all the families we see in the visiting room and is so grateful when she finds a way to help one of them, mostly in the form of information or advice about the prison system.  She works as an administrator for a public school district, and often teachers will send kids to talk to my mother about what is happening to their incarcerated siblings, parents, or uncles.  She joined a prison ministry team at her church and helps folks coming home from prison navigate their new lives.

My mother always encouraged me to speak my mind and to have no shame about my father’s incarceration.  Her faith in me and her support of my scholarship and performance work enabled me to write my play Doin’ Time.  When I performed at the women’s prison in Dublin, Ireland, my mother came with me.  During the post-performance discussion, the women in the prison seemed even more moved by my mother than they had been by my play.  They were in awe of her support of my work, and many of them felt that their own families would not have wanted them to speak publicly about incarceration because of how its stigma reflects on them.  My mother’s pride in my work moved them to tears, and many of them wanted to shake her hand or hug her after the show.

I hesitated to get engaged to my now husband, long after I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, because I couldn’t bear the thought of my father not being present for my wedding.  When the time came, my mother walked me down the aisle, gave me away, and sat next to a beautiful sign she had made, which stated that that seat was reserved for my father and the many other incarcerated people we love who could not attend the wedding.  She has never tried to replace or ignore my father’s presence in my life, and she always finds a way to honor him and the love we share.

My mother gave me my relationship with my father after he went to prison.  If she had not accepted his phone calls, taken me to visit, encouraged my letter writing, I would not have continued to know him as well as I do now.  The prison has taken much from each of us, but it cannot take our family; my mother wouldn’t let that happen.

Panel on Justice and Sexual Violence on Mon., April 16th in Chapel Hill, NC

12 Apr

What does “justice” mean in our work to end sexual violence and support survivors?

Please join community activists and volunteers from the Orange County Rape Crisis Center for an exciting discussion about community-based strategies for accountability and healing.  This interactive discussion will address the pros and cons of the criminal justice system as a means of responding to sexual violence, and explore alternatives beyond it.  Panelists will discuss transformative and restorative justice, alternative models for redressing harm and holding aggressors accountable, and our experiences with these processes in our own communities.  Don’t miss this opportunity to re-imagine justice as we work together towards a world free of gender violence and all oppression!

Monday, April 16th

7-9PM

Orange County Rape Crisis Center

1506 E. Franklin Street Suite 302

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Prison Family Bill of Rights

11 Apr

Prison Family Bill of Rights

A coalition of prison family members and representatives of secular and faith based organizations serving prison
families from across the United States in attendance at the 2012 National Prisoner’s Family Conference affirmed
the following:

The Prison Family has the right to be treated with respect and dignity by any and all representatives of the prison
system at all times.

The Prison Family has the right to expect and be assured the utmost care is established and maintained to provide
a healthy and safe living environment that promotes effective rehabilitation, reintegration and parole planning
throughout a loved one’s incarceration.

The Prison Family has the right to be treated and integrated as a positive resource in the process of rehabilitation
and reintegration preparation and parole planning of an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to receive consistency in the enforcement of rules; regulations and policies
affecting a loved one’s incarceration.

The Prison Family has the right to receive consistency in the enforcement of rules; regulations and/or policies
affecting visitation and/or all forms of communication with an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be informed in a timely, clear, forthright and respectful manner of any changes
in rules; regulations and/or policies affecting visitation and/or communication with an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be informed within 24 hours and in a compassionate manner regarding the
illness; injury and/or death of an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to extended visitation during the hospitalization of an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be informed within 24 hours of the security status change and/or transfer of an
incarcerated loved one to a new facility.

The Prison Family has the right to be provided specific written and evidenced-based reasons for a loved one’s
security status change; clemency denial and/or parole denial.

The Prison Family has the right to have their incarcerated loved one housed within a distance from their
permanent address that provides reasonable access for visitation and/or to facilitate serving as a resource in the
rehabilitation and reintegration preparation and parole planning of their incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be provided the current specific name or names and direct phone numbers of
prison officials to contact for questions about their incarcerated loved one.

The term “Prison Family” is herein defined as including, but not limited to, a blood or adopted relation, spouse,
domestic partner and/or trusted friend designated by an incarcerated person upon or during a period of
confinement as one who will serve as an outside contact on his or her behalf for the relaying of any communication
regarding the medical and mental health, security status and location of the incarcerated person and/or for making
critical decisions on behalf of the incarcerated person in the event of his or her incapacitation.

For further information: http://prisonersfamilyconference.org/ and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prisoners-Family-Conference

Call for Stories from Children of Incarcerated Parents

9 Apr

Denise Johnston of the Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents and Megan Sullivan of Columbia University are putting together a book of stories written by adults who experienced the incarceration of a parent when they were children.  Please contact them directly for more information.

Call for Stories from Children of Incarcerated Parents

Are you an adult who experienced the incarceration of your parent as a child?  Are you interested in sharing your story, in your own words, with others?

Do you have an adult child who experienced your incarceration?  Would your adult child be interested in sharing his/her story with others?

We are editing a book of life stories by adults who had a parent in jail and/or prison when they were growing up.   The book will describe adult perspectives on parental incarceration.  This will not be a book ABOUT children of incarcerated parents, it will be a book BY adults who experienced the incarceration of a parent as children.

There is no requirement that contributors have ever lived with their incarcerated parent.  There is no requirement that contributors have ever had an active relationship with their parent who has been in jail or prison.  We are particularly interested in stories from individuals who have been involved in the juvenile or criminal justice systems themselves.

We will provide editorial assistance to help contributors write the story they want to tell.  Contributors can send us their written work electronically or by mail.

Individuals who are interested in sharing their stories and participating in this important project can email or write to us at:

cipstories@gmail.com

OR

Denise Johnston & Megan Sullivan
c/o Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents
Box 41-286
Eagle Rock, California 90041        

Please contact us by June 30, 2012.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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