Through the Center for Changing Systems of Power at Stony Brook University, Professor Robert T. Chase and Professor Zebulon Miletsky are partnering with incarcerated author, philanthropist and founder of the United Black Family Scholarship Foundation (UBFSF), Ivan Kilgore to produce, publish, and make publicly available the writings of incarcerated authors from around the nation as part of the 100 Prisoners' Book Publishing Literacy Program.
The aim of the project is to give incarcerated people the opportunity to reach beyond the walls of confinement to engage the mind and the wider public as published authors. "We believe that writing offers a path towards self fulfillment, intellectual and personal growth, self-reflection, and indeed empowerment. We're excited to bring this project to the wider public as the voice of incarcerated people is one that wider society needs to hear," said Professor Chase.
"I think it's even more exciting that these authors are taking control of the narrative as to who they are as incarcerated citizens. Far too often we've seen in society that this narrative has been one-sided and shaped for political gain by far too many unscrupulous politicians and beneficiaries of the police state, " said Professor Miletsky.
Sponsored by the UBFSF and the Center for Changing Systems of Power, members of the Sacramento IWOC and student volunteers at the University of Santa Cruz worked closely with the UBFSF to place a call for manuscript submissions of all genres and social justice essays.
"The response was amazing. We received over 100 essays and have selected some 25 manuscripts to publish for our first round of publications," said Ivan. "I look forward to the change these writings well inspire. For I know the power of the pen all too well."
Inspired by Ivan's raw storytelling, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences recently nominated the Marshall Project’s three-part animation series entitled “the Zo” for two Emmy Awards. The project, a rendition of former Yale University student Patrick Doolittle’s thesis paper, The Zo: Disorientation and Retaliatory Disorientation in American Prisons, was adapted from Kilgore's book Domestic Genocide: the Institutionalization of Society, chapter 8—the Zo.
“The Zo,” which is nominated in the categories of Outstanding Interactive Media and Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Direction, is a disturbing study of a struggle between prisoners and their captors, waged not with fists or weapons but with deliberately disorienting rules and impossible tasks. Those who are incarcerated try to keep their grip on reality by clinging to details—days until parole, prices of items in the commissary, the minutiae of routine. Guards escalate, inflicting arbitrary transfers or random stints in isolation.
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