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About Us

"I WANT TO BE KNOWN AS SOMEONE WHO DOES ALL THINGS WITH LOVE"

BENNY   RIOS

Our Story

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Humans of Life Row is a narrative project initiated by the Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project (PNAP) Justice, Politics, and Culture Think Tank at Stateville Correctional Center. The PNAP Think Tank is comprised of men serving long-term sentences who are artists, writers, poets, civic leaders, mentors, and life-long learners. Inspired by the popular Humans of New York photography project, which features stories and photographs of the diverse array of ordinary people on the streets of New York, the Humans of Life Row project explores the human beings who inhabit ‘life row,' people who are serving life or de-facto life sentences of thirty years or more.

 

This project took on a unique character when in-person classes at Illinois prisons were shut down due to the pandemic. Letter writing to and from our students became the only consistent mode of communication and interaction between PNAP faculty and students. For over a year and a half now, the PNAP Think Tank has persisted via correspondence packets hand-delivered and picked up from the prison every week.

 

To activate the Humans of Life Row project under these conditions, Think Tank facilitators developed a series of open-ended questions that urged respondents to share experiences about their everyday lives: who they are; how they view the world; what their hopes, worries and inspirations are. These prompts were also made available to other educators and practitioners. (See https://p-nap.org/think-tank for the full set of questions.)

Contributors: Benny Rios, Lonnie Smith, Raul Dorado, Karin Hargrave, Carlvosier Smith, Devon Terrell, Eric Watkins, Joseph Dole, Rodney Love, Mike Simmons, Rita Jo Brookmyer, Patrice Daniels, Cayla Wheeler, Maria Ramos, Phoenixx, M. Sketch Vetor, Rhonda Thompson, Karen McCarron, Janet Jackson, Bernina Mata, Robert "Wes" Boner

Design Artists: Dayo Adeoye and Yazud Brito-Millan

Cover Artwork: Noelle Petrowski

North Park Photography: Karl Clifton-Soderstrom

Publication Coordinator: Thomas Hagan

Organizational and Content Supporters: Beth Awano, Noelle Petrowski, and Pablo Mendoza

Creative Adviser and Think Tank Facilitator: Alice Kim

 

Special thanks to American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Chicago, National Public Housing Museum's Civic Love Project, North Park University's School of Restorative Arts, Parole Illinois, and PNAP faculty and staff for supporting and contributing to this project.

Partners

Our  Partners

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