Prison Arts Programs – by Anna Clark

Anna Clark is a freelance journalist and fiction writer living in Detroit, MI. Her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Utne Reader, Women’s eNews, Bitch Magazine, Writers’ Journal, RH Reality Check, and other publications. She maintains the literary and social justice website, Isak. From “Society of the Incarcerated“:

…a movement that challenges the prison industrial complex and acts from the belief that it’s real people inside those walls, and that real families are affected. The movement also acknowledges that victims of crimes are real people too, whose experiences deserve understanding, not media caricature or political exploitation.

Consider the Prison Creative Arts Project, a collaborative organization that facilitates writing, art, drama, and music workshops in prisons, detention centers and urban schools throughout Michigan. It’s produced 13 annual exhibitions of art by Michigan prisoners at the University of Michigan, facilitates one-on-one arts training with people who are incarcerated and supports artists who are released from prison by connecting them with working artists in the communities they return to.

Consider The Sentencing Project, a national organization that documents the disturbing trends in the prison industrial complex while agitating for viable alternatives to incarceration and current sentencing law.

Consider PEN America’s Prison Writing Program, which has provided mentoring, workshops, readings and publication to incarcerated writers since 1971.

Consider the Women’s Prison Association, which advocates for women with histories in the criminal justice system. It particularly supports a woman’s need for housing, employment and health care when she returns to her community.

Consider Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, which challenges the death penalty through constant interaction with citizens, media and policy makers. Since 1976, MVFR has contended that legal executions lead to yet another family losing a loved one to violence, while capital trials absorb dollars that would be better put to victim services and law enforcement.

Most of all, consider yourself-and your own stake, intentional or not, in a system that will continually and quietly shape the direction of our country unless we agitate for an alternative.


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