Insiders’ Voices: Art and Writing by Incarcerated Women, Youth, and LGBTQ Folks

Insiders’ Voices: Art and Writing by Incarcerated Women, Youth, and LGBTQ Folks
Montgomery Ward Gallery, 2nd Floor, Student Center East

UIC’s Women’s Leadership and Research Center and Campus Advocacy Network, in partnership with Campus programs, invite you visit the Ward Gallery’s latest exhibit, Insiders’ Voices: Art and Writing by Incarcerated Women, Youth, and LGBTQ Folks. The goal for this exhibit is to give the public an opportunity to experience the humanity of those members of our community who are, or were, incarcerated. So much of what we learn about life inside jails and prisons comes from sensational fictions in mass media that do not reveal the complex humanity of the people inside America’s prison system. Insiders’ Voices creates space for members of the public to hear what life is like inside from those living inside.

The work presented in this exhibit is all created by currently or formerly incarcerated people speaking directly to those of us outside. Their words and images convey deep feelings of isolation, pain and fear and reveal inspiring resilience, resistance and personal power. We hope people will come this is exhibit, take in the art, take home some ‘zines.

Because women represent the fastest growing prison population, and LGBT people are significantly more vulnerable to sexual assault inside prison, and because 15% of young people incarcerated within the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice reported being sexually assaulted by staff or other detainees while incarcerated, we can no longer ignore the reality that incarceration within the US prison system often makes already vulnerable members of our communities [youth, women, and LGBTQ people] more vulnerable to violence and marginalization. This exhibit sheds light on experiences of interpersonal violence within a system that is massive, yet invisible to most of us on the outside.

WLRC/CAN are hosting a series of events in conjunction with these exhibits. All events are free and open to the public.

All events will take place in the Montgomery Ward Gallery, 2nd Floor, Student Center East unless otherwise stated.

26 August 2013: Exhibit Opens to the Public – This exhibit shares art and writing by women, youth, and LGBTQ people who are currently or were formerly incarcerated in the United States. The words and images within this exhibit highlight the humanity, resilience, and hope of a population too often ignored or vilified by those on the outside. The art and writing in this exhibit explores themes including state, sexual, domestic, and emotional violence which may be upsetting for some viewers.

18 September 2013: 5:30pm – 7:30pm –The Chicago Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective will present an overview of the Prison Industrial Complex, its expansiveness, and its impact on communities. Immediately following, a representative from Pride Inside will speak about the impact incarceration on their life. Finally, Black and Pink Chicago will host a workshop focused on the importance of maintaining connections with incarcerated LGBTQ people through letter writing. There will be snacks.

23 October 2013: 4:30pm-5:30 – Members of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers will discuss the intersection of domestic violence and incarceration. Light refreshments will be served.

7 November 2013: Show closes

Please contact Rachel Caidor [] at the Campus Advocacy Network for more information.

Incarcerated Youth Describe the PIC…

One of the main reasons that we created The PIC IS zine was because we wanted to try to bridge the chasm between those of us on the outside and those who are incarcerated.

We were excited to hear the voices of youth who are jailed at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center reading from the zine. Thanks to our friends at Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy Program for making this happen. We invite you to listen:

Video: U.S. Prisons Cost Us $228 Billion

2012 Blog Statistics in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Zine: What Better Time Than Now?

What Better Time Than Now?” New Text on Gang Unity Available for Prison Organizing

The Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective is proud to have just published a new piece of prisoner’s writing on unity, truce efforts, and political consciousness in US gangs. The zine presents a number of interesting topics like the forming of identity through historical consciousness and revolt, the co-optation of such identity through musical and artistic forms, and the role of street gangs in the rebellions of the future.

Of particular note is the connections the piece draws between the lived experience the author, a self-identified gang member and “social” prisoner, on the one hand, and the analysis of well-known anti-authoritarian and/or anti-colonialist heads like Lorenzo Ervin, Russell Maroon Shoatz, and Frantz Fanon, on the other. Many writings of these kinds come from the pens of known “political” prisoners; we’ve been excited to correspond with and present a discussion on gang truce and prison organizing efforts from a prisoner with a slightly different background. Of particular note for this editor is the simultaneous critique of a self-destructive gang culture and the urge to use these organizations as liberating forces – this wax and wane between a tendency towards self-destruction and “constructive” rage finds reflection in a wide variety of social movements all over the globe in the last year.

Needless to say, the issues discussed here are fairly universal to the facilities all over the US, and we encourage folks around the country who do correspondence with, maintain literature distros or libraries for, or who generally support prisoners’ organizing and rebellions to print and copy these en masse. This piece joins a number of other related texts in our collection, including “No, We Can’t All Get Along” by Jeff Chang and “Liberation or Gangsterism” by Russell Shoatz, that folks are also encouraged to make use of.

Click on this link to download the zine

All Our Resources in One Place…

Now you can find all of our resources in one place. Special thanks to Collective member Lewis Wallace for spearheading the development of the PIC Is… site and also to our friend and ally Micah Bazant for designing the beautiful site (pro-bono).

You can visit the PIC Is site HERE . Please spread the word to others.

A Short Documentary About Rikers Island: This Island is Ridiculous

We recommend this documentary for its portrayal of how young people are impacted by incarceration.

The Island is Ridiculous: RIKERS Inside and Out from Muralla Media Works on Vimeo.

Video: The PIC IS Zine…

We found this great video of our PIC Is Zine online and wanted to share it here. We are always happy when the zine is used as a teaching tool. Let us know how you use it in your work too!

The Prison Industrial Complex from Spiro Bolos on Vimeo.

New Release: The Missing Toolkit

The Missing is a public art, consciousness-raising, and community engagement project to focus public attention on the epidemic of mass incarceration in Chicago. We have just released a new TOOLKIT to provide ideas for those who want to participate in this project. Click HERE to download the kit.

First-of-Its Kind Study Finds State Taxpayers Pay 14 Percent Higher Costs Than Budgets Reflect For Incarceration

NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Other state agencies cover billions in corrections expenses

State taxpayers pay, on average, 14 percent more on prisons than corrections department budgets reflect, according to a report released today by the Vera Institute of Justice. The report, The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers, found that among the 40 states that responded to a survey, the total fiscal year 2010 taxpayer cost of prisons was $38.8 billion, $5.4 billion more than in state corrections budgets for that year. When all costs are considered, the annual average taxpayer cost in these states was $31,166 per inmate.

While it is common knowledge that some prison costs are tracked outside their budgets, The Price of Prisons marks the first time these costs have been quantified for prisons across the states. To calculate the total price of prisons, Vera developed a survey tool that tallied costs outside corrections budgets. The most common of these costs were fringe benefits, underfunded contributions for corrections employees’ pension and retiree health care plans, inmate health care, capital projects, legal costs, and inmate education and training.

“This new tool changes the equation. It paints a far more accurate picture of the costs to taxpayers,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Center on the States. “State leaders already have been questioning whether corrections spending passes the cost-benefit test, especially for nonviolent offenders.”

The scale of the expenditures outside of corrections departments ranged from less than 1 percent of the total cost of Arizona’s prison budget to as much as 34 percent in Connecticut. For example, the Connecticut Department of Corrections spent $613.3 million for prisons in fiscal year 2010; when all state costs are included, the total taxpayer cost was $929.4 million. The main outside costs were pension contributions ($147.1 million) and employee fringe benefits, including health insurance ($104.2 million). (For more information, see the fact sheets for states that completed the survey at .)

The study found the following range of prison costs outside states’ corrections budgets in 2010:

20 to 34 percent in six states: Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas;

10 to 19.9 percent in nine states: Arkansas, California, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington, and West Virginia; and

5 to 9.9 percent in nine states and less than 5 percent in 16 states.

“As states continue to deal with serious budget constraints, it’s critical that policy makers, corrections officials, taxpayers, and legislators know exactly what their prisons cost,” says Vera director Michael Jacobson. “Many states are moving toward reserving incarceration for the most dangerous people and using proven strategies to improve public safety at a lower cost.”

To help policy makers manage prison costs, the report identifies a number of measures that states have taken to reduce spending while maintaining public safety. Options include modifying sentencing and release policies, strengthening strategies to reduce recidivism, and boosting operating efficiencies.

The publication is based on a survey conducted in August 2011 by Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections and Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit, in partnership with the Pew Public Safety Performance Project. The report includes detailed methodology that state officials may use to calculate the full taxpayer price of prisons each year.

SOURCE Pew Center on the States
Download the report and fact sheets for each participating state at

PARTICIPATING STATES: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho. Illinois
Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland Michigan, Minnesota ,Missouri ,Montana ,Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma , Pennsylvania Rhode Island Texas .Utah
Vermont ,Virginia,  Washington, West Virginia , Wisconsin
Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved