- The St. George’s Flag, a Politician’s Snark, Class Division and English Parliamentary Politics
- The Marshall Project Launches with Attitude, Quirks, Stats and a Focus on the Death Penalty
- ‘The Cell and The Sanctuary’ Exhibit Makes Case that Art-In-Prison Programs Reduce Recidivism
Emily Thornberry, The Now Former Attorney General For The Labour Party, The Main Opposition Party In The UK Tweeted This Photo Of A House With The Caption “Image From #Rochester” If I'm ever buried to my eyeballs in work and juggling a dozens stories a once, and if I feel like I'm doing lots of things average and none of them well, and if I ever feel like my stated commitment to imagery and politics in society is lagging, waning or absent, and I ever wonder if thinking and publishing on these things is actually worthwhile, a story from nowhere crops up and reminds me exactly why photography is surprising, ridiculous, ineffable and constantly in need of examination and appreciation. Emily Thornberry, Attorney General for the Labour Party, the main opposition party in the UK lost her job because she tweeted the photo above. It's an amazingly quick unravelling of events for Thornberry -- one consistent with the swiftness of media and exchange. Her tweet was aimed at no-one and everyone at the same time. Snark that endears no-one because it only unearths the latent lack of connections currently felt between the strata of English society. It's a personal attack of sorts. Maybe, even, classless?! To me and ever other English person it is obvious why. In America everyone and their grannies hang up flags. But in Britain, the St. George's flag has become synonymous with the working classes, plain living, no-nonsense attitudes. It's an open secret that the working classes are mocked for their, well, lack of class. It's a stereotype that is damaging and divisive and keeps people down. Thornberry relied on the laziest of stereotypes to throw some shade at "hard-working English men" as Prime Minister David Cameron put it. Opportunism by Cameron (a man of the upper classes) for sure, but a fair assessment of Thornberry's dismissal of this family, home and culture. This story reminds me how imagery is entirely culturally relative. How we are all raised with different associations readings and literacy as far as images are concerned. It also reminds me of the power of photography. One foolish slip by Thornberry (I don't doubt she is scornful of working classes, she just made the mistake to express it) and she's gone. A whole career ruined and probably a parliamentary seat lost. Read more at the Guardian here and here. Filed under: Photography: Non-Prison
Larry Mayes Larry Mayes Scene Of Arrest, The Royal Inn, Gary, Indiana. Police Found Mayes Hiding Beneath A Mattress In This Room. Served 18.5 Years Of An 80-year Sentence For Rape, Robbery, And Unlawful Deviate Conduct, 2002. Chromogenic Print, 48 X 60 Inches (121.9 X 152.4 Cm), Edition Of 5. © Taryn Simon It probably doesn't need me to tell you that THE MARSHALL PROJECT launched this week. Ever since BILL KELLER announced his departure, after 30 years, from the New York Times to take up the editor in chief role at the Marshall Project, people have wondered what could possibly emerge from within a new "nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering America’s criminal justice system." Early output is good. STAFF & STORIES Pre-launch, The Marshall Project published two pieces of investigation -- DANA GOLDSTEIN wrote about youth corrections in West Virginia; and MAURICE POSSLEY recovered and uncovered the startling facts of Cameron Todd Willingham's wrongful conviction and execution. Upon launch, KEN ARMSTRONG looked at a legal quirk that literally effects life and death (Parts One and Two). Keller and managing editor TIM GOLDEN interviewed outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder about many things including his attitude toward the death penalty. LISA IABONI revisited Taryn Simon's groundbreaking series _The Innocents_, for which Simon asked wrongfully accused men following their exoneration to pose for portraits at the sites of alibi, crime or with the original victims of the crime. I interpret these three features as not coincidental to one another. The documented mistakes in the application of the death penalty -- and the consequent murder-by-the-state of innocent people -- is a barometer to shortcomings in the wider criminal justice system. Stories of life and death usual force people to sit up and take notice. Elsewhere on the site, ANDREW COHEN's been busy examining racial disparity in policing in the aftermath of Ferguson, the crisis in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and asking if mass incarceration is going away. JOHN LENNON speaks to a case of aging in Attica; SIMONE WEISCHELBAUM looks at improvised make-up (fake-up) in women's prisons; and IVAN VONG has produced an interactive of all the stats associated with the U.S. criminal justice system. The team of journalists assembled is impressive. The visuals should be good too. One of the two managing editors is GABRIEL DANCE who won a Pulitzer Prize with The Guardian for his team's data visualisation of the NSA leak. Probably the best way to acquaint yourself with the people is with this TWITTER LIST OF MARSHALL PROJECT STAFF. DOLLARS & DOING The great unknown about this venture is the money. It's not likely journalism grants will cover the great expense to cover investigative reporting on these matters. Money from super-wealthy individuals will play a key part. Here's what we do know. Thus far, the Marshall Project has partnered with Slate and the Washington Post and plans to team with other established media as and when needed to amplify the reach of the reporting. The Marshall Project has hit the ground sprinting and I'm intrigued by the possibilities. In some ways, I am surprised it has taken so long for a single issue outfit focused on criminal justice to emerge. The need has been around for a long time. There's lots more to come and you're probably wise to sign up for their email blast _OPENING STATEMENT_. Here's some of Keller's launch statement: _We are not here to promote any particular agenda or ideology. But we have a sense of mission. We want to move the discussion of our institutions of justice — law enforcement, courts, prisons, probation — to a more central place in our national dialogue. We believe, as the great jurist Thurgood Marshall did, that protection under the law is the most fundamental civil right in a free society. Yet, by the numbers, the United States is a global outlier, with a prison population matched by no nation except, possibly, North Korea, with a justice system that disproportionately afflicts communities of need and of color, with a corrections regime that rarely corrects._ _We aim to accomplish our mission through probing, fair-minded journalism, combining investigative rigor, careful analysis, and lively storytelling. We will examine the failings of our criminal justice system — but also test promising reforms. While a number of news organizations are doing distinguished reporting on crime and punishment, the journalistic energy devoted to this kind of reporting — time consuming and expensive as it is — has been sapped by the financial traumas of the news industry. Our aim is both to restore some of that lost energy and to be a catalyst for coverage elsewhere. We will publish the fruits of our reporting here and expand our audience by collaborating with first-rate newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and other online news sites._ _In addition to our original reporting, we will compile the most interesting news and commentary from around the world of criminal justice, distributing our findings in our daily email, and offering this site as a hub for debate and accord. We are nonpartisan and non-ideological, which means you will find here the voices of progressives and conservatives, centrists and provocateurs. As it happens, criminal justice is one of the few areas of public policy where there is a significant patch of common ground between right and left._ Keller closes his welcome with an invitation to respond in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ feature. Get writing. Filed under: Prison Non-Photography Tagged: Gabriel Dance, Lisa Iaboni, The Marshall Project
© Ronnie Goodman ARTS AND RECIDIVISM “Evidence suggests that arts-in-prisons programs lower recidivism (returning to prisons) by 27% and reduce disciplinary actions by 75%,” reads the press release for the prison art exhibition _The Cell and the Sanctuary: Art and Incarceration_ currently on show at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (SCMAH). THAT'S A BOLD CLAIM. One of the great difficulties with justifying arts and/or liberal arts education is the difficulty in measuring its direct (positive) effects. Evaluation in budget-constrained prison systems is especially demanding and cynical. First and foremost, people want to know if any type of program steers a prisoner away from anti-social behaviour. If the answer is complex, partly elusive or complicated by other criteria then doubt descends, the enterprise is labeled as airy-fairy, and premise is dismissed. In brief, prison arts programs wanting to prove themselves have a tough audience. The effects of arts and education is difficult to track because many benefits such as relative thinking, critical engagement outside of institutional narratives, cumulative learning, etc. take years. Education is a slow build. Benefits are for years down the line; for a lifetime. Also, many prisoners are on long sentences and the primary criteria corrections departments and researchers look to - recidivism - can only be measured once a prisoner is released. The intangibles of a liberal arts education aren't necessarily contributing to a measurable impact the next hour. A general aura of skepticism surrounding arts and liberal arts education is compounded by the fact that research money often goes toward other prison programming (vocational, prison industries) and other evaluation first. We saw this was the case when the State of California stripped the DOC of its Arts-In-Corrections funding 7-years ago. In times of crisis, arts funding is first on the chopping block. Despite no state funding, groups such as the William James Association continued, driven by volunteer efforts. The recent California budget has put millions back into the coffers earmarked for Arts-In-Corrections. The William James Association has returned to work in 11 state prisons. The return was helped by the convincing results of a study, _California Prison Arts Evaluation 2014,_ that was commissioned jointly by the William James Association and the California Lawyers for the Arts. You can download it here. HERE'S THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY AND REASON FOR BOLD CLAIMS. The _California Prison Arts Evaluation 2014 _was a one-year study in four prisons revealing that arts programs improve prisoners’ behavior and their attitudes about themselves. "A significant majority of inmates attribute their greater confidence and self-discipline to pursue other academic and vocational opportunities to their participation in arts programs, signaling a pathway for overall personal growth," says the William James Association. A BRIEF HISTORY OF RESEARCH The author was Dr. Lawrence Brewster of the University of San Francisco who had, in 2012, completed a _Qualitative Study of the California Arts In Corrections Program_. Prior to these two studies, there had been little research since a cost-benefit study in 1983, _An Evaluation of the Arts-in-Corrections Program of the California Department of Corrections_ (also conducted by Brewster), which posited that society and the institutions benefited by reduced disciplinary actions, community service and beautification of the prisons.
It was high time someone brought the research up to date and dampened down naysayers and skeptics. Hopefully, the _California Prison Arts Evaluation 2014_ might spur other states to make a return to arts programming. “Arts-in-prisons programs improve relationships between people within the prison as well as with guards and supervisory staff," says the William James Association." Prisoners exposed to arts programs are more likely to adjust to life outside prison and are less likely to become repeat offenders."'Blind Curve' (2010) © Felix Lucero 'Lower Yard, San Quentin' @ Ronnie Goodman 'Baseball At Old Folsom Prison' @ Ronnie Goodman © Justus Evans 'Obscuring Self' © Rolf Kissman 'Jazz In San Quentin' @ Ronnie Goodman 'Uphill Struggle' @ Ronnie Goodman _The Cell & The Sanctuary_ Opening, Santa Cruz Museum Of Art & History, November 7th, 2014. Photo: Laurie Brooks / William James Association 'Prison Boots' @ Ronnie Goodman Installation View Of_ The Cell & The Sanctuary_, Santa Cruz Museum Of Art & History. Photo: Laurie Brooks / William James Association THE CELL AND THE SANCTUARY _THE CELL AND THE SANCTUARY_ features paintings, drawings, sculptures and writings by teachers, artists and organizations who are "working together within the prison system to provide a direct link between incarcerated individuals and something larger than their dehumanizing cells," says SCMAH. _Artists including Ronnie Goodman, Justus Evans, Felix Lucero and Rolf Kissman (whose works are included in this post) are in the exhibition, as well as Ned Axthelm, Peter Bergne, Guillermo Willie, Stan Bey, Khalifah Christensen, Dennis Crookes, Isiah Daniels, Bruce Fowler, Henry Frank, Roy Gilstrap, Thomas Grider, Gary Harrell, Amy M. Ho, John Hoskings, David Johnson, Ben Jones, Richard Kamler, Chung Kao, Darryl Kennedy, Katya McCollah, Pat Messy, Omid Mokri, Gerald Morgan, Carol Newborg, Stan Newborg, James Norton, Eric “Phil” Phillips, Anthony Marco Ramirez, Adrienne Skye Roberts, Mark Stanley, Fred Tinsley, Tan Tran, Kurt Von Staden, Geno Washington, Michael Williams, Thomas Winfrey, and Noah Wright_ _THE CELL AND THE SANCTUARY: ART AND INCARCERATION is produced in collaboration with BARRIOS UNIDOS and the WILLIAM JAMES ASSOCIATION (also on Facebook)_ _It is on show November 7, 2014 – February 22, 2015_ _Senseless_ © Felix Lucero Filed under: Activist Art, Amateur, Fine Art, Photography: Non-Prison Tagged: Barrios Unidos, California Lawyers for the Arts, Felix Lucero, Justus Evans, Laurie Brooks, Museum of Art & History, prison art, Ronnie Goodman, Santa Cruz, SCMAH, The Cell and the Sanctuary, William James Association