The United States has the largest prison population in the world-over 2.3 million inmates. Since the 1970s, the rate of most serious crimes has dropped or remained stagnant, yet prisons have been filled at double capacity. People of color, the poor, the illiterate, the mentally ill, youth, and women are the primary occupants. This phenomenal growth is due to mandatory drug sentencing laws, conspiracy provisions, a dysfunctional parole system, inadequate legal representation, and huge profits made by the multinational corporations servicing the prisons. The posters in Prison Nation cover many of the critical issues surrounding the system of mass incarceration including: the racial disparity in sentencing, the death penalty, the Three Strikes law, women’s right to self defense, access to education and health care, the growing rate of incarceration, slave labor, divestment, privatization, torture, and re-entry into the community. They show the power of art to educate and inspire.
The following are a couple of the posters in the traveling exhibit: