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We're going behind bars to couple real life stories w/ rich data visualizations & explain 30 years of wild growth in California prisons
We're going behind bars to couple real life stories w/ rich data visualizations & explain 30 years of wild growth in California prisons
46 backers pledged $2,506 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Voices of Justice: The story of California's crowded prisons project video thumbnail
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$2,506

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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

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    If you pledge $5 or more to the Voices of Justice project, we'll write a personalized thank you note on a sheet of poster board and photograph it being held up by one of our spectacularly attractive team members on the road. We'll then place that photograph on the 'Thank You' page of the VoJ website.

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    5 backers
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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    If you donate $15 to the project, I'll ask any serious question you want to any person we interview. Do you have something you'd like to discuss with a prisoner? A warden? A corrections officer? A ex-gang member in L.A.? Pledge 15 bucks or more and we'll make sure your question gets an answer.

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    8 backers
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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Donate $30 or more to the project and also receive one of our awesome "Razor Wire" Voices of Justice t-shirts - guaranteed to fill friends, coworkers and random strangers with the utmost of awe and respect for your savvy fashion sense.

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    14 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Give 50 bucks to the project and we'll buy a copy of any book of your choosing (assuming it costs us $15 or less) and give it to any person we interview of your choosing — an inmate, correctional officer, parolee, etc... you decide.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    As we travel, we'll be taking hundreds of photographs for the project. For those who donate more than $100, we'll collect the best of these photos together into a personalized collection along with related explanations, original sketches of our ideas for stories and data visualizations, and a handwritten thank you letter that I'll compose on the road.

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    4 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Alongside the many photographs we'll be shooting on the road, we'll also be writing lots of short stories, many of which won't appear on the VoJ website. If you're generous enough to donate $500 or more to the project, we'll bind all of our best stories, photos and data visualizations together into a handmade and personalized book that we (and all of our artistically-inclined friends) will pour our hearts into designing and send to you as a token of our deepest and sincerest gratitude.

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Funding period

- (30 days)