Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sacred Transformations

Sacred Transformation's Website
I just learned about this great organization yesterday! "The organization is dedicated to helping people transform tattoos or scars from negative experiences into marks of positive artistic expression." It is led by SAIC alumnus Eric Dean Spruth.

Taryn Simon - The Innocents

Taryn Simon's Art Work

1/12 - Charles Irvin FainScene of the crime, the snake River, Melba, Idaho
Served 18 years of a death sentence for Kidnapping, Rape and murder, 2002

"The Innocents documents the stories of individuals who served time in prison for violent crimes they did not commit. At issue is the question of photography's function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.

The primary cause of wrongful conviction is mistaken identification. A victim or eyewitness identifies a suspected perpetrator through law enforcement's use of photographs and lineups. This procedure relies on the assumption of precise visual memory. But, through exposure to composite sketches, mugshots, Polaroids, and lineups, eyewitness memory can change. In the history of these cases, photography offered the criminal justice system a tool that transformed innocent citizens into criminals. Photographs assisted officers in obtaining eyewitness identifications and aided prosecutors in securing convictions.

Simon photographed these men at sites that had particular significance to their illegitimate conviction: the scene of misidentification, the scene of arrest, the scene of the crime or the scene of the alibi. All of these locations hold contradictory meanings for the subjects. The scene of arrest marks the starting point of a reality based in fiction. The scene of the crime is at once arbitrary and crucial: this place, to which they have never been, changed their lives forever. In these photographs Simon confronts photography's ability to blur truth and fiction-an ambiguity that can have severe, even lethal consequences."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Concrete, Steel, and Paint

I recently learned about this documentary and rushed home to look it up. All I could find was an amazing website and trailer. I watched the trailer and the film looks SO incredible! From what I understand about it, this group of prisoner works with a group of victims of crime to create a mural for the community. What a tough topic to take on! This shows the amazing power that art has to connect people and stimulate healing. I will be continuing to research how to see the full length of them film. It is truly inspiring to see people taking the initiative to start tackling these complex topics.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Troy Davis Story CNN (execution)

I think it is absolutely appaling that our Justice System can put a man to DEATH without concrete evidence. The fact that this happened and the Supreme Court wouldn't even re-open the case gives me absolutely no reason to trust that this system we have works. Please watch and educate yourself. This is a CNN report.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ruth Gilmore and Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex

Ruth Wilson Gilmore is Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her publications include Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (2007) — about which the San Francisco Chronicle said “Now, if you want to understand why progressive California leads the Western world with its regressive system of punishment, Gilmore’s “Golden Gulag” is the first must-read book of the 21st century”. She has also published How to Stop a Prison in Your Town (with the California Prison Moratorium Project collective); along with many articles and interviews. In addition to the California Prison Moratorium Project, she was a founding member of Critical Resistance; the Central California Environmental Justice Network (of which she is past president); and many other social justice organizations.

Ruthie Gilmore will be speaking at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)  called “Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex: The World We Want is the World We Need.”
When: Monday September 26, 2011 at 5:30 followed by a reception at 7:30.
Where: Room 302 Student Center East at UIC. 750 S Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60607.
For more information, contact Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (312) 996-6339 or the Jane Addams Hull House Museum (312) 413-5353.
Or you can email beyondthepic@gmail.com
All are welcome. This event is ADA accessible.
Sponsored by : Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy and Jane Addams Hull House Museum.

Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex Lecture Website

This Website is an AMAZING resource for anyone interested in the Prison System!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"You can judge a society by the way it treats its prisoners" - Winston Churchill

This quote it ridiculously accurate! I just proposed to my Social Theory class at SAIC  that we discuss this topic sometime within the semester. With the incarceration boom in our country over the past 30 years, this topic becomes extremely relevant to our generation and something I feel strongly deserves the consideration and scrutiny of social theorist (professional and lay) everywhere!

Friday, September 9, 2011


Tamms Year Ten!!!

Tamms is a supermax prison that is located here in Illinois. They hold everyone of their prisoners in solitary confinement, permanently! "Prisoners never leave their cells except to shower or to exercise alone in a concrete pen." The United Nations has recognized solitary confinement as a form of torture falling under the fifth article in the Human Rights Declaration. 
"When the prison opened in 1998, prisoners were told they would be housed at Tamms for one year. When we launched Tamms Year Ten in 2008, one-third of the prisoners had been there over a decade."
"Tamms Year Ten is a coalition of prisoners, ex-prisoners, families, attorneys and other concerned citizens who came together, after ten years of misguided and inhumane policies, to call for legislative oversight at Tamms. Help us end psychological torture in Illinois." 
Artist Laurie Jo Reynolds has actively participated in their fight to put a stop to Tamms. This image is one of her mud stencils she uses to spread the word and create awareness of the torture that is going on right here in the state of Illinois!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Demand Freedom Now!

The Michigan Women's Justice & Clemency Project Website

This is an amazing project is directed by one of my former professors at the University of Michigan, and a current source of inspiration for me, Carol Jacobsen. I have had the privilege to work with her on a couple of public art projects. Her passion for righting social injustices is contagious and I want to thank her for rubbing off on me!
This project's intent is to seek out justice for the many women in Michigan's prisons that have been sentenced to long term/ life in prison due to defending themselves against their physical/sexual abusers. These women took a life as an act of self-defence and did not receive due process or a fair trial. They also strive to educate and advocate for human rights and humane alternatives to incarceration.
It is fair to say her class has changed my life and the way I look at the the world. I would not be where I am  or who I am without the experience of her class.

Please visit the website and see the faces of the women and their cases. Each case is individually legally reviewed. There is SO much information on the website it is hard for me not to copy and paste the whole thing!

Just a few of the startling facts from the website:

"In the U.S., one-third of female murder victims are murdered by male partners, and women survive an estimated 4.8 million rapes and physical assaults each year at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends."

"Less than 4% of male murder victims are killed by female partners, and most of those are women acting to defend themselves from men who have repeatedly beaten them. "

"In Michigan, one woman is murdered by a husband or boyfriend every five days."

"Currently, there are approximately 370 women serving time in Michigan prisons for Murder I, II or felony murder. We estimate at least one-third are women who acted in self-defense against an abusive partner but did not receive due process or fair trials based on the facts of their cases; and many have 
served 20 or more years."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Working towards Abolition instead of Reform

This is a GREAT article that I found off of the PIC website. It pin points different rhetorics many prison reform groups use to change policy and reduce suffering for the incarcerated. It also clearly demonstrates how many conservative/ far Right political groups use these same rhetorics to twist these reform efforts into  more prisons, more business, more control and more power. This article gives tactics and responses to use instead of the common ones in order to work toward the ultimate goal of eliminating the power of this system and working towards building alternatives to it.

PIC Is Zine

I just learned what a zine was yesterday and I am so excited to share with everyone the powerful (Prison Industrial Complex) PIC Is... zine.  It is filled with emotional drawings and very compelling facts.  Educated yourself about the corruption that is taking place behind the close doors of our correction facilities. Learn about the BIG BUSINESS that is the Prison System.

    "There is no other society in the history of humanity that has imprisoned more people than the United States. With only five percent of the world’s population, the United States houses over twenty percent of the world’s prison- ers.1 This is a larger prison population than that of the top thirty-five European countries combined.2 In proportion to its total population, the U.S. incarcerates five times more people than Britain, nine times more than Germany, and twelve times more than Japan.3 Moreover, sixty percent of this correctional population comes from a racial or ethnic minority group.4
    Our obsession with locking people up in the U.S. doesn’t come cheap. States spend more than fifty billion dollars a year on their correctional systems.5 This does not include the tens of billions of dollars spent by the federal govern- ment to police, prosecute, and imprison individuals. Last year, the Department of Justice’s budget was nearly thirty billion dollars, with six billion dollars going to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Our tax dollars support a vast network of prisons, jails, immigration detention centers, and asso- ciated personnel that maintain over seven million people under state and federal supervision.6 By comparison, in 1965 there were 780,000 adults under correctional authority of any type."
    "The poverty-stricken, the homeless, the young, queer people, people of color, gender non-conforming people, the mentally ill, the undocumented, addicts, and increasingly women: these are the faces of our prison population. By creating laws that specifically target these groups, our gov- ernment essentially establishes a carceral nation. Instead of spending money on drug treatment programs, meaning- ful employment initiatives, health care, affordable hous- ing and public education, our tax dollars funnel the most vulnerable populations into the prison system so that they may languish with little-to-no access to needed resources. Despite repeated findings that there is no real correlation between incarceration and the country’s crime rate, we insist on imprisonment as our first, and really our only, response to all kinds of harm."

Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective

This organization has a wealth of knowledge about the incarceration BOOM of our generation. My dream, in the near future, is to be able to work with them and gain experience and knowledge about activism, the incarcerated, and the politics that surround the corrupt prison system of the United States.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Current Read: Razor Wire Women

This book I had found through one of the many PCAP emails that I have received. It sounded right up my alley. Women Prisoners, Activist, Scholars, and Artists; What is not to love? I immediately ordered it. This book has been fueling my passion of working with the incarcerated population. The facts and ideas presented are mind boggling and inspire me to be an advocate for those without a voice. It has been a great resource of information about further books, articles, and artist that deal with this controversial subject.

Prison Creative Arts Project

As my first "official" post, I wanted to include the initial inspiration for my quest to get my Masters of Arts in Art Education. I participated in this program in my undergrad at the University of Michigan and was blown away at the lasting impact it has had on my life. I highly recommend checking it out.

Website Assignment

Our first post had to be about our website we visit most frequently. Right now I have been on a HULU kick. I have been addicted to the show Hell's Kitchen. This website (HULU) while very useful if you have a lot of time to waste, is in no way a reflection of this blogs content or use. This was just an assignment.