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Thinking about the carceral context
and your position around it

Too often when someone is in jail, the first question that comes up is “What did that person do?” It comes up before that person is allowed a face or a voice or a story that is her own creation. In the case of women especially—and beyond this for those coming from backgrounds of poverty, violence, and discrimination—we must train ourselves to reframe our questions, thinking from the onset “What happened to them Who are they, and what can they teach us?”

What would happen if we were to make a commitment to linger until the story of each incarcerated person found its rightful space—resisting all temptations to rush toward resolutions, wisdom or repentance that might not yet (or ever) be part of her truth—what might we be able to learn from the process? What would happen if we were to welcome with wide open arms, not the stories we might wish for, but those that come out when we give the permission to drop all pretending? Could this make a difference, not only to those who find healing in bringing their past selves back to life on the page, but to a society that doesn’t know what to do with its own violence and pain?

Too often when someone is locked behind bars, they are judged by the courts, by society, by us. We’ve already figured they’re guilty. Once a person is allowed the space to voice their story, they become real. They show us who they are.

Once they tell their story, we get to see the person. We get to hear their voice, and it makes a difference.

We’ve designed this curriculum to be used for people who are currently incarcerated, and for those who were formerly incarcerated, along with prison family members.

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