Archive for Events

Discussion Series on Juvenile Detention And Incarceration in Chicago

Coming to Chicago in September and October Roosevelt University, in conjunction with the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, will be kicking off a fascinating and educational series of discussions centered around the topic of youth detention and incarceration.

It all starts on the 26th of September with a volley of personal narratives. Those of you who follow our work already know the importance we attach to these personal stories. They are the most effective way to re-humanize those on the borders of society. It is a lot harder to ignore a statistic once you’ve met the person represented by the numbers.

While none of our team will be able to make it to the Windy City, we do encourage any of you within range to do so. It looks like quite an array of programming!

So, without further ado, here is their writeup on what you can expect. If any of you, our readers, make it to the series, we would love to hear about the experience!

Youth stories on their experiences in confinement

Learn from youth about what life in confinement is like and how this experience, and other levels of connection with the juvenile justice system, has impacted their lives.
Wednesday, September 26, 5:30 p.m.

Chain reaction: Alternatives to policing

Listen to youth tell stories of their encounters with the police, and then join the dialogues about alternatives to policing as a way to reduce violence and crime.
Thursday, October 4, 5:30 p.m.

Alternatives to juvenile detention and incarceration: Can we succeed? What will it take?

What community-based alternatives exist now? How are youth referred to these programs? Are they designed to educate, rehabilitate and address the needs of youth who have drug dependencies, disabilities, mental health or trauma issues? Are there enough housing facilities and programs available to youths with criminal records?
Tuesday, October 23, 5:30 p.m.

Youth with disabilities need education, not incarceration

Youth with disabilities comprise 30 to 80 percent of youth caught up in the juvenile justice system. How can we ensure youth are getting the services they need to succeed in school and beyond?
Thursday, November 8, 5:30 p.m.

Reentry and life after juvenile confinement: Existing services, or lack thereof, to ensure a successful transition and no recidivism

What services are available to youth when they are released? Is there adequate support for them to complete their education, receive expungement guidance, housing, counseling and other necessary services to ensure they are successful and don’t recidivate? Tuesday, December 4, 5:30 p.m.

RSVP: Nancy Michaels, nmichaels@roosevelt.edu
Cosponsored with Project NIA

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Hanging Out With Humane Exposures

Due to technical difficulties our debut Hangout On Air last Thursday did not archive to YouTube. It’s a real shame because we had an amazing conversation! I’ve discovered that many people had trouble that day with both their broadcasting and their archiving, so it was not just a glitch on our part.

In the meantime I have actually been able to interact with the Hangout team over at Google and am working on smoothing things out for our next one.

Marcy Axness will be joining us, along with a rotating array of special guests, for a series of conversations that touch on early home life, neuroscience, and juvenile justice as well as the ways that these topics intersect. It is our hope to create an archive of supplementary resources that build off the material presented in our books.

While we hope to get the kinks worked out of Hangouts we do have a backup plan: BlogTalkRadio. Either way we will make sure that these debates and conversations are available online, and easily shareable.

If you would like to suggest a guest, or submit yourself as one, please leave us a comment here or touch base with us through one of our social media profiles.

Once we get things rolling you should see a new show roughly once or twice a month!

Jesse Jackson to Spend the Night in a Mission District Homeless Shelter

Jesse JacksonIt is a fact of the modern, media-driven mentality that celebrities attract a lot of attention. This is frequently leveraged, where possible, to attract attention to causes of various sorts. Back in my home town of New Orleans, Brad Pitt is the resident champion of sustainable housing. Jerry Lewis has his famous telethon; Oprah consistently casts her spotlight on social issues, and so on.

Today, another celebrity is in the news as he tries to attract the eyes and the ears to the plight of the homeless — Jesse Jackson. Rev. Jackson will be spending the night in a homeless shelter in the San Francisco’s Mission District.

Jackson observed the following in a statement to San Francisco’s ABC 7 :

‘Two things strike me when I come to the homeless shelter, the number of people who are working by day who live in the homeless shelter and the number of children in these shelters who in fact end up being disconnected from school,’ said Jackson.

This is what we all need to keep in mind. This is not a partisan issue, it is a human issue. There is not an ounce of liberal or conservative agenda in the simple and chilling observation I just quoted. It was only yesterday that I was writing about the importance of staying in school.

There are many homeless people in the U.S. — and the numbers grow daily — who, while employed, have suddenly found themselves bereft of a roof. It could be a subprime home loan, accumulation of debt, or a variety of other factors, but the simple reality is that more and more everyday people are hitting the streets.

Jackson is a colorful character, and I am sure that his overnight stay will attract a lot of attention. I certainly hope that it helps. Every effort to raise awareness is important.

Source: “Jesse Jackson spends night in homeless shelter,” ABC 7 San Francisco, 10/26/10
Image by PublicResource.org, used under its Creative Commons license.
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The Stand Down in San Diego: Three Days on “60 Minutes”

Homeless Man with Two Flags in NYCSan Diego’s yearly Stand Down event just passed recently, hosted by one of the oldest and most well-known programs to help homeless veterans. In case you’re not familiar with it, The Veterans Village of San Diego website describes the program as follows:

In times of war, exhausted combat units requiring time to rest and recover were removed from the battlefields to a place of relative security and safety. Today, Stand Down refers to a community-based intervention program designed to help the nation’s estimated 200,000 homeless veterans ‘combat’ life on the streets.

VVSD organized the nation’s first Stand Down in 1988. Since then, the program has been widely replicated nationwide. Today, more than 200 Stand Downs take place across the country every year. ‘The program has become recognized as the most valuable outreach tool to help homeless veterans in the nation today,’ according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.

This video report from The New York Times YouTube Channel provides an inside view of the 2009 Stand Down. Among other things, it looks at the growing and disturbing new demographic, homeless veteran women:

A stand down provides a number of basic services that are lacking in life on the streets: showers, haircuts, medical and dental attention, benefits assistance, counseling, 12-step meetings, and more. Some of these things, like the simple old-fashioned shower, we take for granted, yet having them makes all the difference in the world for those who lack them. How can you find a job and pull yourself up if you cannot even get clean enough for an interview?

While we cannot embed it in this post, the full 60 Minutes report is available online. You can watch it here.

When looking at social programs like this, we need to remember that many of these people simply need a hand up, not a handout. The investment in our community returns manyfold in both tangible and intangible ways. This is why we always talk about our stance on this subject being a bipartisan win-win scenario. From the conservative perspective, rehabilitating the homeless back into society makes sound financial sense — as it will reduce the overall cost to the system over the long term.

From the liberal perspective, the socially conscious angle is the one that is of most importance. The vital thing is to note that despite the differences in how they reach that conclusion, both sides of the political equation should find it easy to see that it is, indeed, more expensive to do nothing!

Source: “WATCH: Can Three Days Make A Difference For Homeless Veterans?,” The Huffington Post, 10/17/10
Source: “Homeless Vets: Does Anyone Care?,” CBS News, 10/17/10
Image by NYCUrbanscape, used under its Creative Commons license.

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“It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing” Wins Second Place at Bayou City Inspirational Film Fest

It's More Expensive to Do Nothing - A documentary form Humane Exposures Films

Click on the image for larger size

HUMANE EXPOSURES films is proud to announce that It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing, our documentary about the flaws in our penal system and their possible solutions, has taken second place at the Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival (BCIFF) in Houston, TX.

We would like to thank everyone who has attended the festival, and everyone who has shown us support so far! Each one of you is an important part of the process as we work towards change, so thank you all!

The BCIFF is presented by the PROGRESS Arts Group, a nonprofit arts and education organization. Here is a little bit about the festival:

The Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival (BCIFF) was founded by its executive director, Shanda Davis, to showcase diverse film and video projects that:

* Educate and enlighten us on political, social, psychological, economic, health, religious, and a variety of other issues,
* Offer hope and encouragement as well as inspire us to contribute towards the betterment of society and
* Display positive relationships, morals, individual, and family values.

The Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival’s mission is:

* To provide a viable platform for independent filmmakers and artists from around the world to showcase their works,
* To provide awareness to the world about the variety of educational, inspirational and positive works available and the need to integrate more of these types of works into society,
* To provide a networking platform for filmmakers and industry professionals and
* To showcase the artistic excellence of children & youth in Houston and surrounding areas and provide scholarships to assist them in furthering their arts education.

For those of you who have yet to see the film, here is the trailer:

If our film hit home, or even if you just have an interest in this issue, please take a moment and share it with a few of your friends. The wider audience we can reach the better chance we have of not only alleviating the trials of those stuck in the vicious cycle, but also doing it in a way that reduces the cost to society and government. It truly is much more expensive to do nothing!

Source: “The Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival,” BCIFF Website
Image copyright Susan Madden Lankford, from the HUMANE EXPOSURES films documentary “It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing.” Used with permission.
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Photographing Guantanamo

Ex-Detainee's HomeWe cover a lot of prison issues on this blog. However, up till now, we’ve yet to touch on one of the most infamous prisons in modern American history — Guantanamo.

Award-winning photographer Edmund Clark is preparing to launch a show at the Flowers Gallery in London that features this very prison. The show is titled Guantanamo — If The Light Goes Out, and it takes a slightly different approach than the other photographers we’ve written about.

While most of the photographers we cover are working with images of inmates or the homeless, Clark purposefully has no humans in his photos. The photos are mostly of Guantanamo itself, with the images of the homes of some of the ex-detainees mixed in, giving a jolting dose of perspective.

When asked by Loredana D’Andrea at the London entertainment website Spoonfed about why he did not include portraits, Clark said:

I find that a lot of photographic portraits, you’re not really saying anything. All that’s going to happen is that the viewer’s preconceptions are going to bounce back at them. Some of the ex-detainees wouldn’t have taken part if I wanted to photograph them. I was absolutely adamant that this wasn’t journalistic; I just wanted to work in their homes.

I also think if I produced a set of portraits of ex-detainees from Guantanamo, most of whom are of Pakistani, Middle Eastern, African origin, I think a lot of people would look at those and say, ‘ooh look that’s what a terrorist looks like.’ The portraits would be completely dehumanised. They wouldn’t actually say anything about the individual — the spaces are much more evocative.

Addressing his first point, we must agree that there are many times when portraits don’t “speak” to the viewer. That is why we try to find and share with you those that do. It’s one of the reasons why we tend to look at creators like Susan Madden Lankford, who add elements of personal narrative to their works. The combination of the image and the subjects’ own words helps dispel the effect of reinforcing preconceptions.

As to Clark’s second point, it makes perfect sense. Removing the people themselves and simply presenting the context is a good way to communicate the message while (hopefully) managing to avoid the racial stereotypes that attend the issue.

In Clark’s own words:

[...T]he work ‘is not about monumentalising the historical fact of the camps, but evoking the experience of individuals caught up in events in a backwater of Cuba.’

And that, truly, is the important part — the human condition, the experiences of a daily life gone horribly off the rails.

We’d like to wish Edmund Clark success, not only with his art show but also with the release of his new book, Gunatanamo, If The Light Goes Out, which is due in November following the opening. To keep up with the news about the book and the show, check out Clark’s Facebook Page.

Source: “Guantanamo, If The Light Goes Out – An interview with Edmund Clark,” Spoonfed, 09/24/10
Image copyright by Edmund Clark, used with permission.

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Photo Exhibit Documents Homeless Vets in Minnesota

Put on by the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF), a photography show called “Portraits of Home II: Veterans in Search of Shelter in Greater Minnesota” uses art and documentation to put human faces to the tragedy of our street population. The attitude and the ethical concepts behind the exhibit are stated on the GMHF website:

Art, especially photography, can be a powerful tool for increasing public awareness of the affordable housing crisis facing people in Greater Minnesota. Photographs personalize the human impacts of poor housing conditions and homelessness. They capture the dignity and resiliency of people managing everyday life with few resources and the positive changes that can occur with stable housing. Greater Minnesota Housing Fund is making this compelling exhibit available to local communities throughout 2009 and 2010 in order to touch the hearts and minds of policymakers, local leaders and residents, and to inform these stakeholders of the specific actions they can take to address the housing challenges faced by a growing number of Minnesota families.

The show seems to be doing a good job of generating discussion of the issue. Currently at Winona State University, it was written up in the Winona Daily News:

Ruth Charles, a WSU professor, helped coordinate the event. She hopes the exhibit serves as ‘a piece of education’ and ‘makes the connection’ to viewers that all too often troops are not supported when they return home.

The photos capture an ‘incredibly important piece of history,’ especially right now, as ‘we’ll have a tsunami of veterans coming back to the states’ from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Stormi Greener, a freelance photographer whose work is on display in the exhibit.

One veteran whose photo appears in Minne Hall was deployed to Iraq for 22 months, during which time the house he had been living in was sold. Photographer Brian Lesteberg captures the veteran sitting in the open trunk of his car, where he has been living for more than three months.

We obviously believe in the power of art, image and narrative as catalysts for change. Just take a look at our published offerings. It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and, in cases like these, we’d say that it’s certainly true. You can quote the dismal statistics of the situation, or you can show someone a picture of a child living on the streets. All too often, it’s the image that catches people’s attention first, and that’s why shows like this one are vitally important.

Take a look at Susan Madden Lankford’s downTown USA: A Personal Journey with The Homeless, or Deborah Luster‘s “One Big Self” to see how much humanity can be communicated by a simple photograph. And, really, that is what is so often absent — simple humanity. While walking past a homeless person in the street, most people have trained themselves to look away, but that same reflex does not occur when they’re looking at photos. We would wager that viewing photos like this provides the first in-depth perception of homelessness for more than a few people.

Source: “Portraits of Home II,” Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, undated
Source: “WSU photo exhibit shines a light on homeless veterans,” Winona Daily News, 09/17/10
Image by NAME, used under its Creative Commons license

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Susan Madden Lankford to Host Encinitas Library Food Drive

downTown USA: A Personal Journey with The HomelessAs part of its Third Wednesday Series, the Friends of the Encinitas Library presents our own Susan Madden Lankford this Wednesday, September 15, at 6:30 p.m. Lankford will host the library’s annual food drive for the Encinitas Community Resource Center’s Food Program. The library staff will be collecting non-perishable food items at the event, so we encourage you to bring donations.

Additionally, we would like to thank KPBS for the kind words about Susan in its article that announced the food drive:

Lankford’s penetrating photographs, rich personal narrative, and candid interviews are supplemented by contributions from the street people themselves, creating a compelling portrait of a population at risk. Susan will be exhibiting photography from both of books — ‘downTown U.S.A.‘ [link is ours] and ‘Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time.’

Here is a taste of what you will be in for:

Please join us at the Encinitas Library, and bring some canned goods! The event is free and open to the public. The address is: 540 Cornish Dr. in Encinitas [Google Map].

Source: “Susan Madden Lankford, Author & Photojournalist, Hosts Food Drive,” KBPS, 09/15/10
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“It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing” Screens at the Newburyport Film Fest

Newburyport Documentary Film FestivalThe Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, now in its third year, presents 20 films. Three judges will rate the films in a number of juried categories, and, in addition, an audience-adjudicated award will also be given.

This year, one of those films will be It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing from our very own Humane Exposures Films. The film is directed by the award-winning Alan Swyer, who is known for work ranging from The Buddy Holly Story to the recent documentaries such as Béisbol: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, which he has worked on with Andy Garcia.

It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing is executive-produced by Susan Madden Lankford, and is rooted in her work on downTown: USA and Maggots in my Sweet Potatoes. Here’s a sample of what the film has to offer: This is the trailer from the Humane Exposures Films YouTube Channel:

In his advance praise for It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing, Dr. Bruce Perry sums up the film with an almost Twitter-like brevity:

‘It makes long term economic sense to try and take care of these people in a humane way, and help them heal.’ – Bruce Perry, MD, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Child Trauma Academy

Experts agree that the film’s portrayal of our criminal justice system points to the need for and to the effectiveness of rehabilitation-oriented approaches over simple incarceration, especially when the critical aspect of recidivism is taken into full account:

‘In examining the indisputably recidivistic nature inherent in the contemporary practice focusing on the institutionalization of criminal offenders and comparing it with the documented potential found in numerous remedial programs that return nonviolent past offenders to society as self-sufficient and productive citizens, the documentary film ‘It’s More Expensive to Do Nothing’ makes a compelling case that more than justifies its factual title.’ – John Dean, author and former White House counsel

You can see It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing, as well as a host of other important works in the documentary genre, on September 24 through 26 in the historic downtown Newburyport, MA. The two venues, The Screening Room and The Firehouse Center for the Arts, will be the site of the film screenings during the film fest.

If you find yourself in MA on those dates, come on down and check out the film! It’s More Expensive To Do Nothing will be screened on Sunday, September 26, at 2:00 PM at The Screening Room. If you don’t want to take a chance on missing it, you can purchase tickets in advance.

Source: “Films Selected This Year,” Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, 09/10
Logo of The Newburyport Documentary Film Festival is used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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