Why Help People In Prison
Written by Salty Candace Artwork by Nate Lindell
Why help “prisoners”, incarcerated individuals? Why care? They did something so reprehensible that they should be locked away forever and forgotten about right? Why help “them”? What good would it do? An eye for an eye is the consensus right, put them away and leave them to a miserable fate.
Every one of those thoughts and more crossed my mind when I was asked to join Designed Conviction. I firmly believed that my opinions on the matter were just and valid, I had experiences to back up my beliefs.
So what changed my mind you ask? It wasn’t just one thing, it was many. As an aspiring photographer, I was intrigued by the offer to help promote art made by people in prison.
I thought I could do that, I can appreciate art as well as the next person, and I know my way around a computer.
So that is what I did, I started to promote some great art, I started to read the letters, the poetry, the fine literature that was being mailed to us daily. I was able to meet our Founder Taylor Conley and became great friends with his wife Cecilia. I was able to recognize “prisoners” for what they really are, people.
People who were lost even before their crimes took place. People whose lives before their crimes were full of neglect, abuse, misdiagnosis, trauma and who just plain fell through the cracks of our society. People who are trying to help themselves heal through their art. People who write to Designed Conviction of their remorse, their fears, and struggles, and their guilt.
I know that art has the power to move an individual on an emotional level, it can be therapeutically beneficial, it embraces our senses. So upon seeing the art and reading their stories, I myself was moved not only by the talent but also by the sheer emotional connection their works evoked in me. “If only they had found art instead of trouble”, my mind whispered. My heart broke and my eyes opened. I realized that change is possible in some individuals, not all are capable, but most aspire to.
I contribute and work with Designed Conviction because I believe everyone deserves the right to therapy, the right to still have hope in a hopeless situation and to have their stories told through their chosen art.