Searchlight with Caits Meissner and Justin Monson

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

I'm Sean Kelly. I'm here live at eastern state penitentiary for our weekly searchlight. We're going to START SEARCH LIGHTS OFF For the foreseeable future. Unfortunately we running through some numbers As of today and US prisons in jails. There are three hundred three thousand three hundred. Thirty eight cases confirmed infections of covert nineteen. There have been fifty fifty deaths today to people incarcerated in jails and prisons. There's also prison staff again. More than three thousand members of the prison staff around the United States have been confirmed with a virus and sixteen deaths. We're going to keep looking at these numbers at the start of every searchlight moving forward for those of you who don't know eastern state penitentiary. We are a prison museum in Philadelphia. The prison was built on the belief. That people are inherently. Good and can be rehabilitated. Through solitary confinement that is has a distinctive wagon wheel floor plan that was copied all over the world and there are about eighty three thousand people who were incarcerated inside this building men women and yes children as well. The prison was opened today for tours was abandoned in Nineteen seventy-one today we give tours when we're able when it's safe to do so we have artist's installations like this glorious piece by Jesse Crimes. This is a mural that he made while incarcerated in federal prison this is our graph illustrating the US rate of incarceration the highest in the world by far and our exhibit companion exhibit is called prisons. Today ask questions like have you ever broken the law and what is criminality and do prison work. And what are we? What should we do next last year? We had three hundred and ten thousand daytime. Visitors including twenty-eight thousand school visits. We are proud. Second chance employers. We seek out people with the experience of incarceration to join our education team. We find it's one more tool if they choose to use it That we can use that. They can use to engage our visitors in discussions of the impact of the policies. Around incarceration in the United States are big project. Last year was called hidden lives illuminated. We worked for over a year inside of two prisons here in the Philadelphia Area Teaching animation to artists or incarcerated This is working on his On his film and then we projected those films onto the front wall of eastern state penitentiary for months last summer. You what we're doing here. We encourage you to become a member. I can also support us in many ways from our website Which you see right there. The science close to the public because of the virus through at least may thirty first I. We have wrought much of our programming online. Those hidden lives luminated. Films are being feature one per week out. Different different film focused on every week this week. It's Davids film called freedom. We have a twice weekly visit video. Podcast it's called prisons and the pandemic. It's three minute episode twice a week covering what's happening in American prisons in jails and detention centres with this virus. I can find that on facebook. We have what we call the hospital tour twice. I saw once a week Wednesdays at two thirty live Matt Murphy from our team talks about issues of health both historically and currently in prisons and of course we have the searchlight series. Next week's topic is cove in one thousand nine hundred impact on incarcerated youth. We have heard on contain Martinez from youth. I rethought on a Terry from New Jersey Institute of Social Justice Vincent Schiraldi from the Columbia School of social work. And it's moderated by Liz Ryan from. She's the president and CEO of the youth. I initiative join US. One week from tonight for searchlight but tonight we have Cates Meissner She is a pen America. She's the Panamerican Prison Injustice Writing Program Director Welcome cates we're going to be joined in a few minutes by Justin Reveals Monson. He's pen America writing for justice fellow in his poet. He'll be calling in. So hey it's welcome to searchlight from eastern state penitentiary. Thank you for having me and I was just smiling to see Vinnie. Giraldi on your next week is he'll also an upcoming issue of our newsletter. He is a a real leader in this field. Bigtime happier topics about right now. But agreed what? It is We're just a few minutes actually. Did the introduction a little faster than I thought I would few minutes our second guess. Justin is going to be dialing in hit. You want to tell us a little bit more about our guest Justin and how you know him And then we'll be a unfortunately kind of a lab process them online here with us but a little bit about how you know Justin while I knew of Justin's work a little bit. Before he became a writing for justice fellow. He'd won our prison writing awards and honorable mention a number of years back and so I have read this poem. Thought it was quite a phenomenal. So it's really exciting to see his work elevated through the fellowship the fellowship by the way the prison writing awards and I'll talk a little bit more about our program down the line in prison. Writing Words is solely for currently Karsh Writers and the rain for Justice. Fellowship is a very prestigious opportunity. Eight hundred people apply to across the US. It is an ecosystem of writers. Confronting mass incarceration through various mediums. And is not just people justice involvement? Certainly we have currently and formerly incarcerated to a currently incarcerated fellows. Each round justin was part of our inaugural class last year cohort but but we have people representing all different interests in the field so through that Justin one obviously the fellowship and because he's able to be in communication more than some other folks because Jay communication system which will also talk about a little bit down the line. I found that I was able to communicate with him almost as easily as somebody on the outside. Not Quite. That's not always the case. It's rarely the case in fact says through that because I'm also poet in my other life and Justin's a poet and we share a lot of the same influences reading looking at who are interested in we really developed also a friendship through the work in in a in a shared aesthetic. So it's really a pleasure to get to each your him and bring him on today and hear his thoughts. I think they eat will offer a lot of insight around a variety of topics for people who are tuning it tonight more about communicating with people who are incarcerated as do. This work is a challenge that we have as well in our work. And I'm sure you face it at least as much as we do that you know you wanNA partner with people and bring their voices into the projects And the communication is often We'll hear it here in a moment. Even when a good situation I say relatively good like Justin's where three of us spoke yesterday or speaker got an a moment Even that at such there's so many barriers in the the communication ends up being so challenging. If you say more about working with creative people on these projects yeah and I think it's part of what I will be later but certainly you know I mean in a kind of lucky way or a decision made is that we don't work with. We don't actually do classes on the inside. Where National Program? We work with individuals through the mail snail mail and occasionally through one of these kind of pay to play email systems depending on people have access to it depending on the money on etc. So right now. It's even harder because we're doing a once a week. Mail pick up because the virus at the office thankfully. My team member has a car. If he didn't we would be really at a luck and And we get a stack of mail. Uk High Foot high a week and people are requesting all kinds of support. And so obviously when you're doing an editorial process are awards that I mentioned earlier are in theology that the work is very raw and unedited. Because we can't go through a real aditorial process in the turnaround. You need a good couple months because of the snail pace all prison mail is reviewed as we're GONNA here tonight and I'm thankful in advance to everybody who sticks around embarrassed with US Justin's phone calls aren't fifteen minute increments Hang UP AND CALL BACK. The gotTa go through a whole screening. That would in a moment so people's people's lives and communication are one hundred percent red often censored it's often up to the mail room whose mail gets through or not clerk working that day Actually I I. I don't know if we can include this. I wrote a Tony. Eighteen Bed about it for the Guardian. That details of what that looks like

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