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sound  pieces

The following sound pieces were written and recorded to air on Lumpen Radio and Northeastern Illinois's radio station, to promote the exhibition and audibly capture the humanity of those experiencing death by incarceration.


Michael bell

00:00 / 02:04

I was 18 years old and there I was listening to my own eulogy. My family and friends spoke about me in the past-tense—as if I wasn’t even there. “Mike was so intelligent—he could’ve been anything he wanted.” My grandfather’s voice quaked when he said, “I wish he would’ve just kept playing sports.” During all their testimonies, not one person ever looked at me. I’m haunted by what I must’ve put them through and even more by what those I’ve harmed must’ve suffered. My 18 year old life was over, and in the words of the judge who ruled at my trial, I was being “committed to America’s trash heap”–life without the possibility of parole. No matter no matter what I do—what I may accomplish—in the eyes of the judge and the people of Illinois, I’ll never have any redeemable qualities. During my first decade of incarceration, I was angry and arrogant. Angry at all those who counted me out. Then it became a source of motivation for self-improvement and personal accomplishment. Today, I have a college degree and this life sentence not only symbolizes a pit of despair, shame, and pain, but also the mountain I decided to climb after clawing my way out. My name is Michael Bell and I’m a human of life row.


Darnell  lane

00:00 / 01:56

Witness, at 13 the death of a man Playtime shattered by freeze and eerie screams Police shoot on site their only game plan Extinguished his life and my youthful dreams Hope, now lost for this youngman World full of chaos and endless strife Bullets flying or a courthouse summon Danger helplessness and perpetual blight Adulthood strapped in the killing chair Prison my abode death is a menace Chills like voltage fill the air Silence is bliss no need for repentance Who’s the judge who’s the jury Who devised such a scheme To rewrite the history Of modern kings and queens Days full of suffering with too much anguish No joy no peace justice an aberration Time is naught in purgatory I languish Sentenced to Death By Incarceration My name is Darnell Lane. I am a Human of Life Row.

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benny  ríos  donjuan

00:00 / 01:59

For 38 years of my life, the only picture that I’ve taken with my brothers has been in a prison setting. My brother Meme was incarcerated from 1984 to 2000. In 2002, I was sent to prison for 45 years. For the first 17 years of my incarceration, prisoners were not allowed to take pictures, until 2018. I was grateful for the opportunity to take pictures with my loved ones again. On January 10, 2023, I took my final picture with my brother Meme. He unexpectedly passed away on December 8th, 2023. The news devastated me, but I remained hopeful that soon I’ll be free to capture memories with loved ones. It’s a blessing to capture memories, even in a prison setting. We can’t take for granted the memories we capture from pictures. I encourage you to send pictures to your incarcerated loved ones and visit them to capture lasting memories by taking pictures together. We must take advantage of the opportunities we have to capture memories with incarcerated loved ones. My name is Benny Rios DonJuan. I’m a human of life row.


Jerel  Matthews

00:00 / 01:57

Jerel: I am a man who does so much with so little. Darnell: Jerel is a great chef who makes delicious meals using unconventional ingredients and methods of preparation to feed multiple men several times a week Jerel: From where I sit, I’ve done the impossible for the ungrateful. Darnell: Jerel has saved lives in his neighborhood by pushing peace instead of drugs, preventing young gang members from turning guns on each other, by implementing skills he has acquired in collective care conflict transformation. Jerel: I am a man who is able to convince others that they are capable of doing anything even when they feel they have nothing at all. Darnell: Jerel uses the game of chess to teach life lessons and life skills to young folks who’ve been impacted by the justice system. He is part of a team that uses relational cultural theory to build character, self-esteem and mental balance among youthful offenders, many of whom are victims of harm themselves. Jerel: I am a man who is a great asset to the community, who may never reach his full potential. I am one of Illinois's best kept secrets. I’m one of the Humans of Life Row.


Antonio  'tk'  kendrick

00:00 / 01:48

Look at the carceral system in America Look at all of the Brown and Black faces By what you see it could be surmised That crime is not committed by people of other races… right? You see… This is all by design This is the legacy of a historical, invisible, white hand The hand of a people who fought savage-like for their own freedoms While keeping people who look like me in chains Because they didn’t consider me as a hu-man Let me tell you a story about me When I went to trial, I presented irrefutable exculpatory evidence But my all-white jury still convicted me Yet in the face of overwhelming evidence All-white juries acquitted Emmet Till’s murderers And they let… Kyle Rittenhouse go free My imprisonment is a continued false narrative Put out there for the whole world to see And it has lasted for so long that if I don’t guard my Heart and my mind I’ll start believing the false narrative my oppressors put Out there about me Still my faith in God keeps me strong I’ve been sentenced to death by incarceration And I am a human of life row

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