States of Incarceration fosters community dialogues on the topic of crime, punishment, and mass incarceration in the United States. The program is the result of collaboration between more than 500 people associated with 20 universities and colleges from across the country. Faculty and students researched the history and present of the prison system in their communities. Their work moved from archival research, to site visits at prisons, to dialogues with people who are currently imprisoned. At DePaul University, students and incarcerated men discussed the future, asking “what do you want your legacy to be?” At Skidmore College, students learned about the support that the incarcerated lost when a local prison closed. And at Louisiana State University, students considered the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow at Angola Prison. They contributed their findings to a nationally-travelling exhibition and an online platform that hosts essays and works of art, as well as oral histories. Exhibitions are accompanied by public programs and the project has reached people in 17 states. States of Incarceration has received two NEH grants, helping it reach an audience across the nation; the program is still growing, meeting its goal of inspiring a national dialogue on the future of incarceration in our communities.
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