By Adam Popescu via FastCompany Labs
A digital publishing house is conducting a semi-legal, large-scale search for the next great incarcerated author. The reaction from authorities isn’t what you’d expect.
Jack London, Ken Kesey, William Burroughs, Oscar Wilde, Malcolm X, Voltaire, Cervantes, E.E. Cummings, Martin Luther King, Mark Twain–all literary legends who spent time behind bars. Some only a few nights, others years. A few even penned classics while in the joint.
Unlike those lucky standouts, most incarcerated art doesn’t make it outside the confines of a cell. But that may be changing. Random House recently paid six figures for the rights to a handwritten prison memoir titled “The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict, or the Inmate of a Gloomy Prison.”
Now a Texas publishing company is searching for the next great incarcerated writers–something never possible before software, thanks to strict laws about communicating (and, of course, planning entrepreneurial creative efforts) with prisoners. Here’s how they’re pulling it off.
February 20, 2014 in Books, Current Event, INK: Prison Writing Contest
Tagged Adam Popescu, article, books, digital publishing, e.e. CUmmings, Fast Company, fastco, INK, jack london, Martin Luther King Jr., Oscar Wilde, prison writing contest, pubsoft, Vidahlia Press
Hakim Bellamy at the Monroe Correctional Facility
The Prison Arts Coalition
By Hakim Bellamy
About the guest blogger: Hakim Bellamy became the inaugural poet laureate of Albuquerque on April 14th, 2012, at age 33. He was the son of a preacher man (and a praying woman). His mother gave him his first book of poetry as a teen, a volume by Khalil Gibran. Many poems later, Bellamy has been on two national champion poetry slam teams, won collegiate and city poetry slam championships (in Albuquerque and Silver City, NM), and has been published in numerous anthologies and on inner-city buses. A musician, actor, journalist, playwright and community organizer, Bellamy has also received an honorable mention for the Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize at the University of New Mexico. Bellamy is the founder and president of Beyond Poetry LLC. For more information on the author, please visit www.hakimbe.com.
The City Inside Me
I want to think about my future.
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February 10, 2014 in Current Event, INK: Prison Writing Contest
Tagged Albuquerque, Hakim Bellamy, literature, Monroe Correctional Facility, New Mexico, poet laureate of Albuquerque, Poetry, prison, Prison Arts Coalition, reconstruction tools, teaching artist
The Race to Incarcerate: Locking Up Poor Blacks and Latinos
Most prisoners are people of color. That is not justice.
by Scott A. Bonn, Ph.D.
The number of persons in U.S. prisons is more than 2 million-roughly equal to the entire population of Houston, Texas. The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society or the actual patterns of crime. In fact, there is a stark pattern of racial disparity in the prison population that is the result of racial profiling by authorities.The vast majority of U.S. prisoners are poor, uneducated, unskilled, emotionally or psychologically troubled, drug and/or alcohol dependent, and either Black or Latino.The racial disparity between prisoners and the general population is particularly profound. Blacks and Latinos together comprise less than 30% of the general population but nearly 70% of the U.S. prison population. How can this be?Conventional – that is, uninformed – wisdom suggests the reason Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of the prison population is that they commit the majority of all crimes in the U.S. That is simply not the case.Top of FormBottom of FormThe reality is that Blacks and Latinos are differentially targeted and processed throughout the U.S. criminal justice system. The tremendous discretion afforded the police, prosecutors and judges at all stages of the criminal justice process – from arrest to incarceration and parole – allows Blacks and Latinos to be given harsher treatment than Whites who commit the very same crimes.
This is largely a result of “racial profiling.” According to the ACLU, racial profiling “refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” Stated differently, racial profiling is the reliance of criminal justice authorities on a group of non-legal personal characteristics they believe to be associated with crime.
Consider these facts: Blacks make up 12% of the U.S. population and comprise 14% of all illegal drug users, but they represent 35% of all drug arrests, 55% of all convictions for drug crimes, and 75% of all those who go to prison for drug crimes! This is clearly not equal justice for Blacks relative to other races.
Disturbingly, racial disparity in the criminal justice process exists for most other crimes, including murder and rape, as well. The startling crime statistics reveal that racially biased patterns of processing are very common throughout the criminal justice system.
It is time to pull the blindfold off of lady justice and admit that she is not blind after all. She sees quite well, indeed. Her acute but sometimes prejudiced vision unfortunately leads her to differentially profile, target and incarcerate many poor Blacks and Latinos.
The result is a prison population that does not fairly represent the true picture or color of criminal activity in the U.S. It’s time to put an end to such practices and deliver justice fairly to all U.S. citizens.
Posted in Current Event, INK: Prison Writing Contest
Tagged ACLU, article, bias, crime, justice, prison, race, racial disparity, Scott A. Bonn, sync504.com
The Prison Arts Coalition
Below is a message from Vidahlia Press and Publishing House.
Vidahlia Press & Publishing House announces its first literary contest for those incarcerated in federal, state, or county prison. Approximately 2,000 federal and state correctional facilities in the country are participating in the Contest. The Prison Writing Contest will offer prizes including one year tuition payment to an online or correspondence fine arts or creative writing program at a selected college to the first place winners. Submissions can be in any of the following categories: Poetry, Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction and Graphic Novels. The deadline for submissions is January 1, 2014. Winners will be announced on May 17, 2014.
Historically, great works of literature have been produced while the authors were in prison including essays like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”, Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience, Nelson Mandela’s “Conversations with Myself”; novels like E.E. Cummings’…
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