When articulating social injustice issues, the temptation is to become wholly didactic. It is easy to presume that illustrative data will be more understandable and encourage specific action. As an imagist and activist, I believe otherwise. My forty-four years of making images, teaching and administrating at the college level have proven to me that we linger when we are enthralled. We absorb more thoroughly through the porosity of well-honed intuition.
There are nearly 7,000,000 individuals currently under the supervision of U.S. correctional systems. 2,300,000 are incarcerated in federal, state prisons and county jails. The remainder of those supervised are either on probation or parole.
The scale of this data escapes the comprehension of most people. Expanding upon this deficiency is that a majority of white people do not have any relationship to an incarcerated individual. “Black people in this country are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites; one in 10 black children has a parent behind bars, compared with about one in 60 white kids”. (Stanford Center on Poverty & Inequality) Even with an increase in published scholarship and news accounting these details, too many whites remain uninvolved with over-criminalization or reducing mass imprisonment and the social conditions that create and are impacted by this crisis.