Carolina Public Press; Artists, advocates, community members shine spotlight on incarceration

From Carolina Public Press:

ASHEVILLE – Sharing facts and figures, art and emotions and calls to action, the nearly 100 people crowded into a small room at the Burton Street Community Center last Thursday discussed the effect incarceration has on families and communities.

The event, sponsored by UNC Asheville and Asheville Writers in the Schools, featured a diverse group of panelists: Clarence Robinson, who said he spent more than two years in prison; Patrice Roshun, the clinical director of Homeward Bound’s Women at Risk program; Stephen Smith, who works to keep at-risk youths and adults out of prison by offering job training and more through his organization Green Opportunities; and Elizabeth Forbes, founder of NC Cure, a national organization that advocates for prisoners.

The evening began with spoken-word artist Shanita Jackson reciting a poem about her father’s incarceration. When he wrote to her from prison, Jackson recited from her poem, “he had the nerve to spell my name wrong.”

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to the latest numbers, released by the Prison Policy Initiative earlier this month, the number of incarcerated people is even higher than previously thought, with 2.4 million people behind bars.

“It’s not a white thing, it’s not a black thing, it’s a human race thing,” Smith said. “Everyone is affected by it.”


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