Over the last 40 years, incarceration has grown into an $80 billion industry. One that depends on the human caging of 2.3 million people to extract wealth and resources from the economically-distressed, and disproportionately black and brown, communities unjustly targeted by our criminal legal system. Companies like Securus and Union Supply charge spouses $3.95 to listen to a voicemail from their partners and mothers $4.15 to deposit $10 on the commissary accounts of their children.
Incarcerated people know best that profits in the prison industry are directly linked to suffering. Often, however, words fall short in conveying the harms that commercialization inflicts.
Capitalizing on Justice features the works of incarcerated artists from across the nation who have used their talents to express the ways they and their loved ones have been commodified. Spanning a variety of genres and styles, the works in this exhibition were made using limited resources: state-issued materials, prison contraband, and yard scraps. They were shipped in makeshift envelopes and tattered boxes from as deep in our criminal legal system as Arkansas’ death row and come together to make a strong statement against the prison industrial complex.
Importantly, thanks to funding support, the incarcerated artists whose works are showcased in this exhibit have received financial awards in compensation for their labor. To learn more about the exhibiition and the Corrections Accountability Project, visit correctionsaccountability.org.
Advocate, Attorney, Scholar
Robyn C. Spencer
Exhibition Curator: Shani Jamila
Dir of HRP at UJC, Artist, Activist
Artist, activist and cultural organizer
UJC Safe Re-Entry Advocate
Founder, Just Leadership USA
Exhibition Curator: Marisa Morán Jahn
Artist, Activist, UJC Designer
Actress; UJC Social Worker
Opening Remarks: Doug Lasdon
UJC Founder & Exec. Dir
As one of the nation’s leading legal service providers to over 19,000 of New York City’s most vulnerable residents each year, the Urban Justice Center (UJC) believes that art plays a critical role in re-sensitizing us to overlooked or complex issues — as well as moving us to act. By curating and commissioning original works by diverse artists, UJC invites new ways to reflect upon its work, forge new connections, foster innovation, and to move the public to take action on issues critical to its mission.