Perhaps the greatest irony in modern America lies within our prison system.
The Land of the Free holds 5 percent of the world’s population but incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s reported prisoners. And in no state is this statistic more visible than California:
California’s adult prisons are at more than 200% capacity, over 65% of released offenders go back to prison and, in a state already close to bankrupt, the system costs taxpayers roughly $9-10 billion per year.
Yet the 30-year story of unchecked growth in the state's prisons remains mostly hidden in vague statistics, contorted by media efforts to quickly explain events and trapped in the memories of those who experience it everyday. We want to change this.
Voice of Justice (VoJ) is a multimedia blog that will combine the life stories of prisoners, correctional professionals, parolees, parole officers, sheriffs, victims, teachers and families with imaginative data visualizations about the criminal justice system in order to humanize and raise public awareness about the crisis ballooning in the California prison system and the U.S. as a whole.
You can visit the website here: http://voicesofjustice.com
Prior to founding VoJ, I spent two years as the sole editor for the online magazine for correctional professionals, CorrectionsOne.com. This has placed me in a unique position as a journalist with a wide-variety of contacts in the U.S. correctional system.
If you choose to donate to the project, your money will be used to pay for our bare essentials as we travel around the state by bicycle and bus to prisons, jails and those urban neighborhoods where the vast majority of inmates come from, converting face to face interviews into short stories (both video and text) that will be posted as blog entries on the VoJ website along with relevant data visualizations.
At its core, our goal is to contribute to the building of better communities and correctional systems by sparking communication and increasing understanding between the American public, criminal justice professionals and the people we're all responsible for keeping locked in little boxes of steel and concrete.
"Prison Planet" photo taken by Mark Rain and used under CC license via Flickr.com
- (30 days)