Yo pinte mi libertad = "I PAINTED MY FREEDOM" (photo by Andy Kropa)  


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September 27  2008   Notes from a workshop held at Critical Resistance in Oakland California

From: prison-arts-coalition@googlegroups.com [mailto:prison-arts-coalition@googlegroups.com] On Behalf Of Lizzy

Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 4:49 PM

To: Prison Arts Coalition

Subject: {Prison Arts Coalition} Notes from CR-10 - also in Files section

Buzz and Tory spoke to what brought us to this point (ways some of us have met nationally, history of moving toward a real coalition), and described agenda of the workshop.

Emily facilitated a sharing of names of those in the room, as well as names of programs

Allie facilitated process of gathering written information: name, program name and contact info, email, and one central question or concern or reason they desire a coalition.

Suzanne lead brainstorm on what we need to move toward an actual coalition.

Groups exploring funding, coalition development and website creation met.

Judith facilitated report from groups.

Material on Handout Starting Thoughts on a Prison Arts Coalition:

Inclusive: formerly incarcerated individuals and other individuals who have engaged in creative activity inside prisons and juvenile facilities, acting in alliance with individuals and organizations active for prison reform and abolition.

Advocate for access to the arts and other forms of support for incarcerated individuals.

Seek funding, including funding for incarcerated individuals when they return home and wish to continue as actors, artists, and writers.

Advocate for prisoners’ rights.

Bear witness and bring the voices and images of prisoners to public attention

Resources toward Prison Arts Network


Community Arts Network http://www.communityarts.net/archivefiles/corrections/index.php

Prison Arts Network


Arts in Criminal Justice Conference


PCAP’s site (with resources)


Judith Tannenbaum’s website. Lots of links and information (including manual for artists working in prison) on prison arts page http://www.judithtannenbaum.com


Creativity Held Captive (excellent handbook for artists working in prison, written by Toni McConnel who’s done time herself) http://logoria.com/CreativityHeldCaptive.htm

Teaching the Arts Behind Bars, edited by Rachel Williams    (cover art by Anthony Papa )        http://www.upne.com/1-55553-569-0.html  

Handbooks prepared by PEN Prison Writing Program



Group Brainstorm

Existing projects

Blog space story/art share

Social networking

List existing resources

List upcoming events/feature art


Publication list

Mapping of resources

Small Group Notes

Create our own website?

Interactive blog?

Website takes money (especially a good one). Also a lot of opportunity (video conferencing; keeping in contact) Do we know anyone who can develop a website?

People coming out of prison as the group to develop a site?

Might an art school take it on?

Great Lakes Urban Exchange CCS students created, blog space, art exchange Gallery 555 might be able to help Google map showing who is in your community and who is elsewhere Sell artwork on the site?

Helping people with their re-entry by involving them For now, creating a simpler program google group Make a timeline of goals Web developer in Michigan SolveMedia Sandy Jaszczak consultant/owner

(22456 Beach

Street/St. Clair Shores MI 48226 www.esolvemedia.com sandy@esolvemedia.com 313.330-0880 Formerly incarcerated persons caucus at CR10 also wants to blog fits the group’s goal What pages do we want on our blog? Resource list Existing sites (see list handed out) have lots of resources but static sites; blog will allow


Will blogger let several people be in charge of the blog/ administrators? Should we limit?

Redundancy? too messy if many can post?

Blog can be a placeholder for the website, to update on website Be user-friendly, available and accessible for people coming out Website Mary likes http://www.kcad.edu/

Taking Action

Lizzie Baskerville will create google group as soon as she receives contact info Julia Taylor will create blog within two weeks Ellen will moderate blog Amber will take info off of google group and post onto blog when we want info to be public

Allie will talk to web-knowledgeable friends to get advice and leads within a month Lizzie will also investigate website design/construction

Caitlyn will be part of networking in NY to begin archives of organizations Meghan will help compile West Coast resources Evan will add to Bay area resources/supply resources Lynne Elizabeth will help with resource section Judith has tons of resources she’ll make available Jenn will gather theater suggestions, write up stories/suggestions/ etc.

Alex will contribute work coming out of Santa Cruz and dedicate time looking for cheaper open-source software Mary will gather stories of people coming out on radio and link to website Laura interested in layout/design of blog/website, can contribute ideas, will communicate with Mary


Group Brainstorm

Regional coordinators

Knowledge share

Structure leadership planning committee Share expertise Partner organizations Recruitment/outreach/diversity Identify who will make moves Other ways to connect Voices of incarcerated/formally incarcerated folks in decision-making

Small Group Notes

How do we include inmates in/out, (recidivism), who is included in the coalition, is it broad, flexible enough?

How do we build trust, esp. for prisoners who don’t trust outside organizations?

Can we (groups) vouch for each other? How can we validate our organizations esp. among prisoners?

What were the initial goals made during the Philly conference for coalition? On the one hand we want to be expansive, but need a common bond.

Local connections that are part of a broader coalition ideally have someone in all 50 states.

A community (groups have similar goals); coalition (to support each other and provide new ideas

One goal, model AIDS quilt, we together will talk about the effect we have on helping to end injustices

One goal is to be a support system for each other Platform for coalition first step to communicate with each other Develop a unifying platform (how do we communicate as we create Mission Statement) talking to both in and out.

Inclusive connect all people doing prison work, identify who is drawn to work Develop a new meeting who facilitates? Everyone involved in prison work or does it need some people leading the movement for coalition? When do we meet again?

Develop a model

Who (which people) have the energy? Identify the people who will put in the time to lead and solidify this coalition building. Who will take on the tasks?

Who will do funding? Sustainable young energetic person to take over, make it sustainable.

Hard for people who are already immersed n prison work need new energy and funding Reliable people and diverse people, ability to work through their failures.

Prison resources, talk about system’s dysfunctions Art exists all over expansion avoid distraction, keep it focused CR provided an outlet to see the whole picture of poverty, halfway houses Are transition houses, halfway houses the glue for people coming out?

Re-entry issue.

Incorporating job skills into the art contributes to the bigger issue of housing, jobs Let’s include all groups working on issues related to prisons Let’s provide a place to inform people to keep continuing their art, job skills, for those in and out, people out there using their art, let’s incorporate this in our structure Informing workers inside of the prison, problems preparing the artist teachers to be more

efficient, to really prepare the teachers, importance of preparing your teachers and

supporting them while they teach

Develop training programs have this be part of the Mission Statement Show that this is about collaboration and not just "this is my project" and we are teaching


Need next steps, regional directors, connect regions Carsell class should be part of the mission.

Members of this small group

Amy Jo Sayre Roberts aroberts@sci.edu

Michael Key KmichaelKey1@yahoo.com

Emily Rose Emrose77@yahoo.com

Shana Davis davis.shana@gmail.com

Sarah Ross sarahross@yahoo.com

Bok Choy jenell.nyberg@gmail.com

Nina Billone NBillone@berekeley.edu

Aleksandra Zauko Culture.efry@qc.aira.com Phoenix Moore Shaunnie@umich.edu Lacey Janeroberts laceyjaneroberts@yahoo.com Kate Short kateleeshort@gmail.com (510) 452-7425 Bruce Reilly bruha554@gmail.com (401) 286-1507 Steve Emrick (San Quentin) (415) 454-1460 x 1460 Melissa Klein (Rising Voices) melissaklein@riseup.net (415) 351-9429 Chase Finney chasefinney@gmail.com Sarah Carswell sacarswe@gmail.com Sabrina Alli allisabrina@hotmail.com



Group Brainstorm


Donors with money

Annual membership fee

Resource list for materials

Regional fundraising events

Partner organizations

Annual showcase to raise money

Small Group Notes


1) Find artists and organizations that are interested

2) Training to members

3) Use the web to connect people, some resources already exist

4) Research and finding out who is out there (use list from


5) Apply for grants

6) Regional communication and contact


Group Brainstorm

Research re: facilities how to access

Touring shows nationally

How to guide

Forum for sharing

Way of sharing the art, made widely available (scholarly journals, publications list) Other stakeholders (lawyers, gov, etc) Educational workshops Encouraging universities to incorporate the work

Notes from group gathered on Sunday 9/28

Attending were:

Nina Billone

Bruce Reilly

Melissa Klein

K Michael Key

Tory Sammartino

Buzz Alexander

Allie Horwitz

Suzanne Gothard

Judith Tannenbaum

Caroline (?) from Texas

Tory and Buzz had just attended a workshop offered by the Peace Development Fund http://www.peacedevelopmentfund.org/ and felt this was a possible funder to consider.

Focus on next steps (see below)

Talk about interest in training to do this work and recognition that down the road perhaps this is something some group of us can provide.

Meanwhile, be sure to emphasize the advice-related resources that now exist. Also, hope that the blog Julia sets up will allow people to ask specific questions and for advice. Report that many have talked about the need to focus on doing this work responsibly.

Similarly, report of lots of interest in knowing what’s already out there (people doing this work, programs). Again, this is information we can intend to gather, but in the meanwhile emphasize existing lists (especially material Krista developed http://www.prisonarts.info/ and CAN site http://www.communityarts.net/archivefiles/corrections/index.php

Also Judith’s website prison arts page (www.judithtannenbaum.com)

Suggestion that we develop a questionnaire that people can take as they teach/facilitate to get the input of people inside about what would be useful to them in a coalition.

Suggestion that someone figure out a way to organize email addresses and material regionally.

We temporarily settled with name Prison Arts Coalition. We recognize some of the limitations of this (not all the work is in prison, some in jail, some in juvenile settings, etc) but this seems the most general (and also simple allowing people to find us) we could come up with. Suggestion that we describe the nuance in our mission statement.


Next Steps

Buzz is going to contact Kazu Haga from Peace Development Fund Judith is going to contact her Soros Fellow friend who said he would talk with Soros about funding (this will be an informal first step contact) Judith will draft a letter to Claudine K. Brown at Nathan Cummings to report on what we accomplished this week-end; Buzz will then work on letter with Judith Allie, Emily, Suzanne and Judith are going to draft a Mission Statement that they will send to this Sunday group for input, and then on to the whole group Melissa will join Allie, Emily, Suzanne and Judith to create a list of coalition programmatic goals that we’ll send to the group for input Suzanne will also organize Sat. workshop attendees’ names, email addresses, programs etc regionally Once the google group and blog have been up and operating for a short while, Bruce will create a post looking for someone interested in volunteering to create a website for us (perhaps a college student or design student). Bruce will contact Mary who is also interested in this aspect of the tasks ahead.

Next step needed (I don’t have in my notes that anyone signed up to do

this): Drafting questionnaire to be taken inside for input of people in prison. Bruce, were you going to work on this?

Goals described by Buzz, Tory, Nick, Judith and others in the alliance that met after the October 2007 Art & Criminal Justice conference in Philly

1) A highly interactive website, for contact, conversation, resource sharing, calendar, organizing of meetings, updates on issues, and more. In the meeting following the conference, we proposed a very developed internet resource, contact, and conversation site.

2) A series of meetings of 14-20 people over the next two years. Our proposal builds on the history and models of the Blue Mountain Artists Opposed to Massive Incarceration meetings in the first years of this decade, the 2006 Haystack Mountain School of Crafts gathering in Maine, and California’s Arts-in-Corrections state-wide conferences in the 1980s. These meetings are to be inclusive: the formerly incarcerated, young people in the field, and people working alone in isolated parts of the country should be able to attend. The meetings could be regional or national, and their content will depend on the conveners. The effort will be to "think into the harder places of our work" and to address issues of any kind. The gatherings might include prison activists from outside the arts and policy makers, depending on the nature of the gathering.


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Socialist Worker Online
Taking away prisoners’ art
December 9, 2005 | Page 8
AN ONLINE art show sponsored by New York’s Fortune Society generated national attention recently because one of the participants in the show was serial killer Alfred J. Gaynor.


The Fortune Society and advocates believe that art and other prison programs are therapeutic and rehabilitative. The auction is a way for artists to show and sell their artwork, generating small income in order to buy art supplies.
“Learning how to paint behind bars saved my life,” said artist Anthony Papa, who served 12 years of a 15-to-life sentence under the New York Rockefeller Drug Laws.


On March 29, 2002, New York State Corrections Commissioner Glen Goord ended 35 years of artistic _expression in the New York State prison system by banning the sale of art by prisoners. Before the ban, prisoners in New York were allowed to exhibit their art once a year in the legislative office building in Albany. The art was sold, and 50 percent of the profits were donated to the Crime Victims Board.
In the 2002 show, however, a painting created by a serial killer was displayed. The press found out about it, and the political process went into overkill trying to look tough on crime. The public reasoning behind Goord’s decision was that he felt it was not worth the anguish crime victims feel to allow imprisoned artists to sell their art. “For many men and women in prison, art is a life-sustaining source,” said Papa, who is the author of 15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and currently works with the Drug Policy Alliance. “For most of them, earning money selling their art enables them to buy food and toiletries and help support their families in the outside world.”


Now, Massachusetts appears to be following New York’s lead. In response to sensationalistic media, state Reps. Cheryl Rivera and Peter Koutoujian introduced bills that would prohibit inmate artists receive any profits from their art. “Creating and selling art instills a sense of self-esteem, which is a very important element in re-entering society,” Papa said. “Instead of attacking programs like this, we should be expanding them.”
Tony Newman, Director of Communications, Drug Policy Alliance
For more information, see www.15yearstolife.com/Artban.htm on the Web.



The Republican 
Prisoners' art poses tough legal questions
Monday, December 12, 2005


Anthony Papa became so despondent while serving a 15-year prison sentence that he considered suicide.
Papa, a radio repair shop owner, was in New York's maximum security prison in Ossining because he broke the law once - delivering 4.5 ounces of cocaine.
"I was lost (in prison.) I really didn't know how I was going to survive," Papa said.

Then Papa, in his mid-30s, was introduced to art.  In it, he discovered a talent for painting and a way to express himself politically, both of which played a role in then New York Gov. George Pataki pardoning him after he served 12 years.  Today, Papa, 49, lives in New York City and Brazil, working full-time as an artist and political activist.  "Art saved my life," he says today.  That's why he's concerned about the recent controversy surrounding Springfield serial killer Alfred J. Gaynor's drawing, which was sold in an online art auction.

Lawmakers, Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett and and family members of Gaynor's four murder victims expressed outrage that a color-pencil drawing by Gaynor was allowed into the auction of prisoners' art and planned art show in New York City.
Papa fears the attention given Gaynor could jeopardize the art show and thus suffocate the rehabilitative benefits for the other 200 or so prison artists in the auction.
"I've seen it happen before," Papa said.
In 2002, a 35-year-old annual prisoners' art show in Albany ended under circumstances similar to this year's Fortune Society sponsored auction and art show.
The Albany show was stopped permanently amid publicity surrounding art entries by serial killer Arthur Shawcross, who was convicted of killing 11 women in the Rochester area in the 1980s.

Papa, whose autobiography "15 Years to Life" was released a year ago, said it would be a shame if all incarcerated artists in the auction suffered because society doesn't want Gaynor to receive any profit from his artwork. But even Papa is at a loss when asked how Gaynor's art or any other prisoners' art can be removed from the art auction without violating freedom of speech rights. In the wake of the Gaynor publicity, several Massachusetts lawmakers said prisoners should not profit from art, books and other enterprises and have initiated attempts to stop it.

However, such laws have not always stood up to higher court scrutiny. In the 1990s, New York state passed a law preventing "Son of Sam" serial killer David Berkowitz from selling the rights to his story, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down, saying it violated First Amendment freedom of speech rights. In 2002, Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a similar "Son of Sam" bill violates the First Amendment.
But state Rep. Cheryl A. Rivera, D-Springfield, who plans to file a bill with state Sen. Brian P. Lees, R-East Longmeadow, believes a law can be crafted to pass legal challenges.

"What is different about our bill is that we say whatever inmates create in prison should be considered state property and therefore inmates would have no right selling it. It's not their art to sell," Rivera said.
But Northeastern University School of Law professor Taylor Flynn isn't so sure.
"That may be a tough sell to the (Supreme Judicial) court," Flynn said.

She said it is legally difficult, but possible, to write a law so narrowly that it can meet higher court standards and still limit prisoners' ___expression.
"The difficulty is defining 'what is ___expression?' That is what the court is so protective of," Flynn said.
Regardless, many states have "Son of Sam" laws on their books. But Flynn said most exist only because they have not been legally challenged.
Rivera makes a further argument against prisoners' art being sold by saying the therapeutic value is in the process of creating the art, not in selling it.
"The selling of this art traumatizes the inmates' victims all over again," said Rivera, a former victim advocate.
Also in the wake of Gaynor publicity in Boston, state Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, D-Middlesex, introduced a bill a few weeks ago that focuses on banning profit from art or books based on the criminal's celebrity and not the content itself.
But the $250 that Gaynor earned from his drawing being sold on the second day of the auction is hardly cashing in on any celebrity, according to some, including William C. Newman, director of the Western Massachusetts office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"There is a distinction here between utilizing a crime to make a profit and allowing someone to achieve a modest remuneration for something they created," Newman said. The organizers of the auction say the intent is for inmates to earn enough for art supplies. Also, Newman said Gaynor's drawing of a kneeling Jesus Christ praying has nothing to do with the crime he committed. "He's trying to express a very personal religious feeling," Newman said.
The Rev. Mr. William R. Toller, the former assistant superintendent of human services at the Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, agrees, saying he wasn't surprised Gaynor depicted Christ.

"Look at the Gospel and see who Jesus hung out with. He looked for the sick and the needy. He looked for the Mary Magdalenes. Jesus very clearly called those people to be in relationship with him," Toller said. When he worked at the Ludlow facility, Toller encouraged inmates to participate in prison art classes. But he acknowledged a mentality existing in society that would like to prevent inmates from participating in any activity.
"For some, you can't punish prisoners enough," Toller said. Toller and Newman believe classes that have a rehabilitative value, such as those in art, are crucial to returning prisoners to society in better shape than when they entered prison.

"Programs like art class are not about vocational training. It contributes to the overall process of trying to add some meaning to lives," said Toller.
Through art, inmates' self-esteem rises as they find new voices in which they can express themselves in an exercise of self-discovery, Toller said.
"Ninety-nine percent of the guys return to their communities. If we don't give them a sense of hope, then we will pay for that when they are released," Toller said.
Newman agrees, saying, "It is good for inmates to learn any useful, expressive, nonviolent activity."



NYS Prison Art Ban 2002  &  Felony  Disenfranchisement 


Over 1,000 signatures were collected for a petition demanding Governor Pataki to restore the annual Correction on Canvas Art Exhibit and the ability of artists in NYS prisons to sell their work. Letters were also annexed from individuals that run art programs for prisoners pointing out the importance of such  programs for its theraputic and rehabilitative value. The petition was submitted to Governor Pataki and hand delivered to Chauncy Parker his Criminal Justice Director.  I generated some publicity sending opinion pieces to the NY Times and Newsday. (see below) Also I held a protest in front of the governors NYC office.  At the same time I sought help from many diferrent legal organizations including the NYCLU.  I could not get anyone to help me  No action was taken by the governor and today the ban still stands.  The arbitrary and capricious actions by the  NYS Department of Corrections should be challenged.  Already, similar actions have been seen in the State of Californial and Michigan. 


Save New York State Prison Art! 4/19/02

On March 29, 2002 New York State Corrections Commissioner Glen Goord ended 35 years of artistic expression in the New York State prison system by banning the sale of art by prisoners.  Goord also eliminated the annual Correction on Canvas Art Exhibit that was created by the State Senate and the Department of Corrections in 1968.  Prisoners in New York State were allowed to exhibit their art once a year in the legislative office building in Albany.  The art was sold, and fifty percent of the profits were donated to the Crime Victims Board.

In last year's show, however, a painting created by a serial killer was displayed, the press found out about it, and the political process went into overkill trying to look tough on crime.  The public reasoning behind Goord's decision was that he felt it was not worth the anguish that crime victims feel to allowing imprisoned artists to sell their art.

But for many men and women artists in prison, art is a life sustaining source.  For most of them, earning money selling their art enables them to buy food and toiletries and help support their families in the outside world.  More importantly, creating and selling art instills a sense of self-esteem which is a very important element in reentering society.  The corrections annual art show hence served the dual purpose of helping the rehabilitative process and providing an avenue for offenders to show remorse for their crimes by supporting the crime victims program.

On May 8, noon-2:00pm, a demonstration will take place across the street from Gov. Pataki's office, 40th & 3rd Ave. in Manhattan, protesting the closure of the prisoner art sales program and New York State's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws.  For further information, contact Anthony Papa at  papa@15yearstolife.com 


What You Can Do!!  Write  Governor George Pataki and demand that the Correction on Canvas Art Exhibit be restored along with the ability of artists to sell their art!!  

Governor George Pataki  / State Capital /Albany NY 12224

  Please Do both!

 Print this petition and get everyone you know to sign it.  After that the instructions are on the file.

- Click Here! For Petition

Artists Network of Refuse & Resist!
... For more information call Anthony Papa at (212) 596-9445. To see Anthony's
art go to: http://www.15yearstolife.com/ Ban on Prison Art Show. ...
www.artistsnetwork.org/news3/news146.html - 12k



Ban Ends Far More Than Prisoners' Art Sales

By Anthony Papa

NewsDay,  May 16, 2002 

New York State Corrections Commissioner Glenn Goord, by banning the sale of art by prisoners, has effectively canceled artistic expression in the New York State prison system.He has also eliminated the annual "Corrections on Canvas" art exhibit, which was created by the State Senate and the Department of Corrections in 1967.By doing this, Goord has erased a strong tradition that made life more meaningful in New York's gulags.

For the last 35 years, prisoners in New York State had been allowed to exhibit their art once a year in the legislative office building in Albany. The art was sold, and 50 percent of the profits were donated to the Crime Victims Board, an organization that provides services for crime victims, including financial compensation related to their victimization.But controversy surrounded last year's show, which included paintings and sketches by serial killer Arthur Shawcross. The political process went into overkill, as officials tried to look tough on crime. Because of one individual, 67,000 prisoners were punished.

The public reasoning behind Goord's decision was he felt that allowing imprisoned artists to sell their art wasn't worth the anguish that crime victims feel, knowing that prisoners convicted of harming them or their loved ones were having their art shown and sold.But I know first hand what art can mean to prisoners. I discovered my own artistic ability while serving a 15-years-to-life sentence for a nonviolent crime under the Rockefeller drug laws

When I entered Sing Sing, a maximum security prison, I was lost in its negative environment. But the discovery of art allowed me to maintain my humanity. The first year I started painting, I won a blue ribbon at the annual "Corrections on Canvas" show, and I knew I had found something that would help me get through the difficult times ahead.Several years later, in 1990, the art and music budget was cut in New York State prisons, leaving a great void. More than 60 positions that had been held by civilians teaching music and art were terminated. I volunteered to teach an art class at Sing Sing and further discovered its therapeutic value. Art was a survival tool - a cathartic vehicle to transcend the negativity of the environment.

The canvas became an outlet to deal with anger and bitterness in a socially acceptable way. Men who were fighting each other now were instead painting each other's portraits - living proof of art's transformative power to bring a sense of calm and fulfillment, elements that become lost because of imprisonment. In 1995, my self portrait "15 Years to Life" was exhibited at the Whitney Museum. This led to exposure to my case, and Gov. George Pataki granted me clemency in 1996.

Today, I travel around the country talking about prison art and its value. For many men and women artists in prison, art is a life-sustaining source. For most of them, earning money selling their art enables them to buy food and toiletries and help support their families in the outside world. But more important, it instills self-esteem - a crucial element both in prison and in re-entering society. The "Corrections" annual art show served a dual purpose. It helped in the rehabilitative process of prisoners. More importantly, it provided a healing process by enabling prisoners to show remorse for their crimes by allowing them to donate half or more of their proceeds to crime victims. To end this tradition is wrong, and to use it as a political tool is despicable.

Hundreds of people said as much in front of Pataki's New York City office last week, signing a petition demanding that the exhibit and the ability of prisoners to sell their art be restored. The governor should respond to his constituents and reverse Goord's decision.

Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.


Ban on Prison Art Show

Commissioner's Ban on Inmates' Art Sales Ends Annual Show
New York Times, March 30, 2002

The New York State corrections commissioner announced yesterday that he had banned the sale of artwork created by prison inmates, saying the benefits of such sales are not worth the anguish they cause to crime victims and their families.

The decision by Commissioner Glenn S. Goord ends an annual spring art show, "Corrections on Canvas," that had been held for 35 years in the Legislative Office Building in Albany. Mr. Goord's decision also eliminates the sale or display of inmates' art in galleries or at arts and crafts shows.

The state's 67,000 inmates are free to produce any kind of art, but they can no longer profit from it, said James Flateau, a spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services. Since 1996, inmates have kept half the profits from most art sales, with the rest going to the state's Crime Victims Board. Last year, the Albany show earned $5,394 for the state.

"The original idea was to show inmates doing something that was perceived as positive and that contributed to their rehabilitation," Mr. Flateau said. "In more recent years it has been perceived as the state providing a forum for inmates to profit."

Last year there were protests after the Albany show featured work by Arthur Shawcross, a serial killer who was convicted of killing 11 women in the Rochester area in the 1980's and is now serving a 250-year sentence at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in the Catskills. Mr. Shawcross's artworks included sketches of Princess Diana and Santa Claus, with asking prices of more than $500 each, far more than those for most of the other artworks on display.

After the show opened, Gov. George E. Pataki told Mr. Goord to ban notorious violent felons from future shows. Mr. Goord, who had always been uncomfortable with the show, decided several months ago to go further, banning all violent criminals, Mr. Flateau said. He then decided to ban the sale of all inmates' art.

"It's a very distressing move," said Robert Gangi, the director of the Correctional Association of New York, a prison watchdog group. "Art can contribute to the rehabilitative process, and when you take away the incentive for recognition, you are telling inmates that their art is not worthy of public display."

He added that many inmates were in prison for nonviolent offenses, and that to penalize them along with serial killers like Mr. Shawcross was unfair.

Buzz Alexander, the director of the Prison Creative Arts Project in Ann Arbor, Mich., said a number of states have inmate art exhibit programs. "It helps keep prisons safe, because inmates doing creative work are in a far more positive state of mind," he said. "It's puzzling to me that anyone would take that away."

Anthony Papa, a former convict who studied art at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility and who gained wide acclaim after his self-portrait was exhibited in the Whitney Museum, said: "This is unbelievable. Once this program falls in one state, it could happen all over.

"Art saved my life," said Mr. Papa, who was granted clemency for a drug conviction by Mr. Pataki, and released in 1997. "It helped me transcend the negativity of prison."



    On April 20, 2002 Anthony Papa created the installation below to express the outrage of concerned citizens and imprisoned artists. Commissioner Glenn Goord was crucified on a cross made of mat board obtained from Sing Sing prison when the artist was a prisoner there (1985-1997)  Goord who is the supreme leader of the new Nazi administration of the NYS Department of Corrections has led the department on a downward spiral to become the worst prison system in the America.  From the recent release of a report by the Correctional Association which outlined the tragedy of the mentally ill in NYS prisons to the in adequate health care scandal this administration continues to abuse its prisoners with eerie similar actions taken by the Nazi's in Germany. The departments logo (below) was replaced by an image taken from a photo of a Nazi officer's belt which displayed the new order.  The officers below firing their rifles signifies the death of artistic expression in NYS prisons that are housed in human cargo warehouses (lists of them are in red)







"Vote"  by Anthony Papa

"The Vote" appeared in the Syracuse Post Standard with the op-ed below.


http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/    10/8/2008

Right to Vote

Federal law needed to protect ex-felon voting rights    

By Anthony Papa
Drug Policy Alliance

More than 5 million people convicted of felonies will be barred from voting in the upcoming presidential election. This is a mind-boggling number of people who will be disenfranchised. The most alarming aspect is that many of them are eligible to vote but don't know it.

In New York state, if you are convicted of a felony, you automatically lose your right to vote. According to the New York State Division of Parole, your right to vote is restored once you have completed either parole or your maximum sentence. If you are on probation, your right to vote is never taken away. But most ex-felons do not know this.

When I was released from prison after serving 12 years under the Rockefeller drug laws, I had no clue about my eligibility to cast a vote. When I went to register to vote I was shocked when they informed me that I had to wait until I was first released from parole. I felt the pain of felony disenfranchisement since it seemed I was being further punished for my crime.

I saw my Queens neighborhood deteriorating around me but was powerless to do anything about it by casting my vote. I was elated when, after waiting for five years, I got off parole and was able to cast my first vote since being released from prison. I felt then like I was fully welcomed back by society as a citizen.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in New York state more than 100,000 people are convicted of felonies every year. A record 115,573 people were convicted of felony offenses in 2007. Nearly 62,300 of those who are convicted are currently on probation for felonies. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of individuals who probably think they cannot vote forever.

There is a growing concern among the public and policymakers for these people to discover their eligibility to cast a ballot. New York State Assemblyman Nick Perry of the 58th District of Kings County is one of those concerned. He currently is sponsoring legislative bill A4107, which would require the Division of Criminal Justice Services to notify former inmates that their right to vote has been restored within 30 days prior to their release.

In addition, it would require voter registration forms to be provided to these individuals. The bill will help former inmates reintegrate more fully into society by empowering them with the right to vote.

You may wonder why prisoners are not notified of this right. I think the problem lies in the voting system itself. In a report by the Brennan Center and the ACLU, based on hundreds of interviews with New York election officials, they found that one third of them did not know that individuals on probation could vote.

The report urged states to better train election officials and to eliminate complicated registration procedures and paperwork to make sure criminal defendants are fully informed about their voting rights.

Even at the federal level, legislation was introduced last week that would restore the right to vote in federal elections to individuals who were previously convicted of a crime, completed their prison terms and are living in the community. The Democracy Restoration Act of 2008 (DRA, S. 6340, H.R. 7136) was introduced in both chambers of Congress by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

Exercising the right to vote should be an important part of a prisoner's rehabilitation. It's an act that makes one feel whole again following years of losing those rights as part of a punishment for crimes committed. If, through voting, individuals can become involved in the political process, they have a much better chance of fully integrating back into society.

Anthony Papa is the author of "15 To Life" and communications specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance in New York.



The New York Times

October 17, 2002

Former Felons Have a Right to Vote

A criminal released from prison has paid his debt and we hope to integrate him back into society. Yet in most states, released felons are deprived of the right to vote, in some cases for the rest of their lives. In the past five years, five states have rescinded or modified their laws, restoring the vote to more than 450,000 people. Other states, and the federal government, should join this trend. Disenfranchising felons is an archaic practice, at odds with basic American values about both punishment and democracy.

The notion that former felons should not be allowed to vote dates back to medieval Europe, where criminals were banished from the community and deemed to have suffered "civil death." During the Jim Crow era in the South, felony disenfranchisement at times had a racial motive: white legislators in states like South Carolina and Alabama tailored laws to deny the vote to blacks.

Felony disenfranchisement remains widespread. In some states, the prohibition applies only while felons are in prison, or on probation or parole. But in 14 states, ex-offenders who have completed their sentences may not vote, usually for life. Nationwide, nearly four million people are disenfranchised by these laws, with the impact most severe on minority communities. According to a study by the Sentencing Project, felony disenfranchisement among black men is seven times the national average, and in Alabama and Florida, 31 percent of black men are permanently disenfranchised.

Taking the vote away from people after their release from prison permanently stigmatizes those whose misdeeds may be minor, and long in the past. (A first offender who pleads guilty to a minor felony, with no jail time, can end up disenfranchised for life.) This restriction on the scope of the electorate also cuts against the principle that the nation's government rests upon the consent of the governed.

There are movements afoot in several states, including Virginia and Alabama, to extend the vote to former felons. Representative John Conyers Jr., a Michigan Democrat, introduced a bill this month to grant former inmates the right to vote in federal elections. And the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta has a class-action suit before it seeking to strike down Florida's laws, which deny voting rights to more than 600,000 people. All of these efforts are worthy of support. This nation still believes in rehabilitating criminals who have served out their sentences. Restoring their right to vote is an important part of this process.

Copyright The New York Times Company | Permissions | Privacy Policy

Yearning To Vote

Date: 10/19/2002
Source: New York Times (NY)
Author: Anthony Papa
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/298

To the Editor:

Re "Former Felons Have a Right to Vote" (editorial, Oct. 17):

I was a first-time nonviolent offender who served 12 years under the Rockefeller drug laws of New York State.  When I was released on parole, I could not vote.  This was a great blow to my self-esteem.

My South Bronx neighborhood was deteriorating, and there were many community issues I wanted to voice my opinion on through the vote.  But I couldn't.  I felt the pain of felony disenfranchisement and was being further punished for my crime.

I waited five years until I got off parole to cast my first vote.  I felt elated to do so.  I was finally accepted by society in my capacity as a citizen.  The right to vote is an important part of the rehabilitation process and should be given to those who have paid their debt to society.

Anthony Papa,

New York

Newsday.com - Ex-Con Free to Vote His Conscience
... five on parole and one false start in September - Anthony Papa, painter, ex ... He traveled
to Washington. ... Pataki courted Papa and his friends, promising big changes ...
www.newsday.com/.../longisland/politics/ ny-nyhen062994010nov06,0,4008173.column?coll=ny-lipolitics-print - 27k - Nov. 9, 2002


Ex-Con Free to Vote His Conscience
Ellis Henican

November 6, 2002

He walked into the polling place in a dark-gray coat and nicely shined

Voting clothes.

This was a little after 9 o'clock yesterday morning at PS 78, the Robert
Wagner Jr. Elementary School, which is tucked into the first floor of one of
the new high-rises by the water in Long Island City.

The bright lights were humming. The sign said "Election District 19."
Children's drawings were taped to the walls.

"Anthony Papa," he said to the woman at the table. "Papa. P-A-P-A."

"Pappas?" the woman asked, looking up from her computer printouts.

"Papa," he said again. "Like Mama. Papa."

The woman nodded and ran a finger down her list of names. "Here you are,"
she said. "Sign your name and take this card to the man over there."

After 17 years - 12 in prison, five on parole and one false start in
September - Anthony Papa, painter, ex-felon and dedicated drug-law reformer,
was finally exercising his constitutional right to vote. As far as New York
State is concerned, he's finally paid his debt and is permitted to vote

That may not sound like much to some people. This is a country, after all,
where two-thirds of the people don't even bother voting in most elections.

But try telling that to a man who's had his right to vote taken away. Watch
him turn into a voting zealot, right before your eyes.

"Actually, I tried to vote in the primary in September," Tony Papa said
before he stepped inside the big booth yesterday. "I had trouble with the
machine. It was kind of embarrassing, actually."

But that wasn't going to happen again.

Papa's troubles go back to 1985, when he went to prison under New York's
Rockefeller drug laws. It was his first - and his last - criminal

"I met a guy in a bowling alley where I used to bowl," he recalled. "He
asked me if I wanted to make some money. He said he heard I was having a
tough time, which I was.

"Business was slow. I had rented space in a garage, installing car alarms
and radios. I was behind in my rent. I had a wife and a young daughter.

"This guy told me, 'Bring this envelope to a place in Mount Vernon. You'll
make 500 bucks.' I went into the place. Must have been 20 undercover cops
came out of nowhere."

Papa went to trial - stupidly. He was convicted after two days. Obviously,
he was a tiny player in the drug business. But under the mandatory
sentencing of the rigid Rockefeller laws, the judge had no room for mercy.
He sent the defendant to Sing Sing for 15 years to life.

Papa did his time productively. He found inside himself the talent to paint.
His artwork was praised by serious critics. He painted a gut-wrenching
self-portrait he called "15 years to life."

"I looked into a mirror one day and saw an individual who was spending the
most productive years of his life in prison," Papa said. "Seven years later,
that painting was hanging in the Whitney Museum of Art."

That amazing prison achievement got some pickup in the media. Art dealers
wrote letters, asking about other work. Pressure began to build. He was a
first-time nonviolent offender. He had all this talent. Wasn't 12 years
enough? On Jan. 23, 1997, Gov. George Pataki signed a clemency order,
releasing the artist-inmate three years early.

Papa stayed busy. He went to work as a legal assistant at a large Midtown
firm. "From the Rockefeller Law to Rockefeller Center," he liked to say. He
joined the fight to reform the Rockefeller drug laws. He lobbied in Albany.
He traveled to Washington. He helped to create a group called the New York
Mothers of the Disappeared, adding the voices of family members to the
drug-reform debate.

But reform has been slow.

Pataki courted Papa and his friends, promising big changes. But the
proposals from the governor's office added up to tiny reforms.

"If he wanted to change these laws," Papa said, "Pataki could go into an
office with Shelly Silver and come out in an hour with a compromise."

When the governor's race heated up, Tony Papa made a commercial for Tom
Golisano, the rich businessman from Rochester who wasn't a natural fit on
many issues - but was dead-on with the issue of drug-law reform. His
drug-reform commercials brought the issue millions of dollars in publicity.

Now it was time for Tony Papa to vote.

He stepped into the booth. He pulled the curtain. He was in there for
several minutes, making sure he did everything right. Then he pulled the
curtain back.

"Some people have said to me, 'The governor gave you your freedom. How could
you not vote for him?' It's a good question.

"I thank him for my freedom," Tony Papa said. "But he's been selling us
nothing but a dream. It really breaks your heart to see these old women on a
cane or a walker, dying while their son or daughter stays in prison.

"So many other people are counting on us. I couldn't waste my vote."
Copyright (c) 2002, Newsday, Inc.

This Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism


Election 2002
Voting Problems

Longing to Vote, A Former Felon Returns to the Booth

By Susan Phillips

Nov. 5, 2002 -- Anthony Papa, 47, lost his right to vote 17 years ago. Today, he cast his vote for the first time in over 25 years.

"It went well," said Papa, after voting at the Robert F. Wagner Jr. High School in Queens. "Finally my social debt is over. I resurfaced."

Papa is one of more than 100,000 New York State residents who lost his voting privileges when he was convicted of a felony. Although he had no prior record, Papa was sentenced to 15 years to life in 1985, at the age of 30, for selling more than four ounces of cocaine to an undercover cop in a sting operation set up by a bowling partner. Governor Pataki released Papa in 1997 through an executive clemency.When Papa was released, he registered to vote,eager toexercise a right he had done only once when he was 19 years old.Instead he learned that casting a vote would cost him a parole violation. He wouldn't be allowed to vote againuntil his parole was over.

The New York State Constitution eliminates the voting rights of prisoners while serving time on felony convictions and while on parole. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, permit prisoners to vote. Nationwide, the voting rules for released prisoners vary enormously from state to state. According to a report by the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice watchdog agency, 3.9 million Americans, or one in 50 adults, have currently or permanently lost their right to vote due to a felony conviction.

While doing time at Sing Sing prison in New York, Papa became an artist and activist, studying the works of Diego Rivera and liberation theology. One piece he painted, entitled "Vote" depicts hands coming through the bars of a fence and dropping the American flag into a ballot box. On the bars are written "education," "healthcare," "housing." He recently produced a commercial in support of Independent candidate for governor Tom Golisano and actively works toward repealing the Rockefeller drug laws. He said laws that prevent felons from voting are racist and inflicts a stigma that is hard to shake.

"It’s like Jim Crow all over again," he said.
Robert Gangi, executive director of the Correctional Association, an organization that works to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws, agreed. "The key problem with these laws is that they foster an assault by government on communities of color," he said. Gangi added that an estimated 135,000 residents of New York State cannot vote in this election due to felony convictions. More than half of these disenfranchised voters are black men.

Although New York State felons lose their voting rights while in jail, they are counted by the U.S. Census as citizens of the counties in which they are held. Since 1982, 38 new prisons have been built in upstate counties. The surge in the prison population, the majority of whom come from New York City, has granted those upstate counties greater political clout in terms of redistricting efforts and state per capita budget allocations.

"The prisoners are counted as residents of a community without the ability to influence the governments of those communities," he said. "The communities they come from lose out."

Voting rights activists say that these communities, primarily urban with black and Latino populations, continue to lose even after the prisoners are released. "There’s a lot of mis-information about who can vote and who can’t," said Juan Cartegena, general counsel for the Community Service Society, a social welfare agency that works to encourage voter participation in New York City. Cartegena said that his organization has been conducting street level voter registration drives for the past two years. "It’s not uncommon for our volunteers run into people who say they can’t vote because of a past conviction," he said. But more often than not, said Cartegena, those people can vote. A misdemeanor conviction does not eliminate voting rights. Felons who have received suspended sentences, or are out on probation, do not lose their right to vote.

Papa finished his parole last February and said the right to vote has restored him his full citizenship. "People say they don’t vote because their candidate won’t win," he said. "But just being able to cast my vote today, I was a winner."


The Sentencing Project
... Prisoners Released in 1994." • Recent reports: on the impact of lifetime welfare
ban for felony drug offenders; on states moderating sentencing policies; on ...
Description: Information about crime, courts, sentencing, criminal justice policy analysis, punishment, alternatives..