She wore the moniker “felon” as she ambled up the steps to her halfway house. It was on the outskirts of her former neighborhood. She had no right to vote. No right to skillful employment. No protection from usurious fines. She wasn’t a citizen anymore; she was an outlaw. Subjugated by the criminal justice industrial system, she was going to be segregated again by her neighbors.
Ninety-five percent of those in prison will be released and will be coming home. The formerly incarcerated have paid for their crimes by serving time in prison but they will continue to have major restraints placed on them. Some of the challenges are these. In over forty states the government bills the formerly incarcerated for their public defender, charges them room and board for incarceration, and requires them to pay for electronic monitoring that they are ordered to use. Many employers outright ban them from employment; others make them reveal their felon status. And, ex-prisoners often lack support systems or skills with which to have sustainable lifestyles. They have a myriad of significant health problems resulting from the conditions in prisons.
Half-freedom unbounded to justice and equality places the formerly incarcerated on the conveyor belt ride of re-incarceration. Convict to ex-convict to convict. And so it goes.
My series P2P, Prisoners to Paper dolls elucidates the difficult lives of the formerly incarcerated. P2P is a compilation of oil portraits of ex-prisoners as if they were paper dolls and fabricated, wearable outfits. Archival criminal and personal documents, family photographs, and recorded historical transcriptions from the participants provide context.
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