Past JAC Events

JAC’s rolling into the new year full-throttle, with an exhibition launch, a letter-writing night, and a film screening. Please join us for any or all of the events below, and please help spread the word!

We’re excited to be partnering with President Lincoln’s Cottage for Iron Cages, an exhibition that will reveal just how much ingenuity exists among the nearly 7 million people who are justice-involved in the US, amplify the voices of those most impacted by mass incarceration, and demonstrate the power of the arts to spark connection, empathy, and change. The exhibition will feature the work of over 20 currently and formerly incarcerated artists in JAC’s national network. Iron Cages opens to the public on January 7th and runs through the end of the month.

Lincoln’s Cottage

We’ll celebrate the launch of the exhibition with a reception at the Cottage on Thursday, Jan. 9 from 6:30-8:30pm. Voices Unbarred, a local prison theatre program, will perform, and there will be readings of poetry written by men and women participants in writing classes at MD prisons as well as live jazz and refreshments. Info and registration here.

Marshmallow Sky, Brian Hindson

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, we’ll gather at Rhizome DC for our third ArtLinks letter-writing night, where volunteers will get to view new artwork by incarcerated artists and share their reactions, reflections, and feedback with them by mail. Participation is free, of course, but we do ask that folks try to bring a few dollars to contribute to the cost of using Rhizome’s space. Refreshments will be provided. More info and RSVP here.

October ArtLinks

Last but definitely not least, we’ll close out the Iron Cages exhibition on January 30 with an event that we’re really excited about: a screening of 16 Bars, “a feature-length documentary that offers a rare glimpse at the human stories — and songs — that are locked away in our nation’s jails and prisons”. The film follows Grammy-winning recording artist Todd “Speech” Thomas into the Richmond Jail, where he collaborates on an album with four incarcerated musicians. It’s an incredibly powerful film.


Tickets are required for this event and can be purchased here:

We hope you’ll stay for a panel discussion after the film. Panelists include:

Lyn Twyman

Lyn is a Behavioral Health Advocate and Community Policing & Re-entry Expert whose father was incarcerated in Federal Prison. Lyn specializes in domestic violence prevention, trauma and healing, community policing, youth engagement, and prison reentry. Lyn’s extensive career spans over 20 years, including a dynamic background in violence reduction with a majority of years spent in law enforcement as a civilian, in addition to the private and nonprofit sectors, state, and federal government. She also advises grassroots organizations that offer fatherhood and mentoring programs for returned citizens. Lyn works to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, especially with youth and those returning from prison. Lyn serves on the State of Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition and is the Chair of the Civil Unrest Work Group. In October of 2016, Lyn was appointed by Maryland Governor Larry J. Hogan, Jr. to the Neshante and Chloe Davis Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force, the first task force of its kind for the State of Maryland. She is a speaker and workshop presenter on various issues including mental health and founded a grassroots program that focuses on domestic violence prevention education and trauma. 

Benjamin Harbert

Ben Harbert joined the music faculty at Georgetown University after receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His Ph.D. research was on music in three Louisiana prisons. His current research interests also include documentary film and posthumanism. Ben has been a teaching fellow at UCLA and a lecturer at Pomona College as well as a resident artist at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Before returning to academia, he directed the guitar, percussion and music theory programs at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. 

Ben is the Director of the 2012 documentary, Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians, and the author of numerous chapters and articles, including “Only Time: Musical Means to the Personal, the Private and the Polis at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women” (American Music, 2013); “I’ll Keep on Living After I Die: Musical Manipulation and Transcendence at Louisiana State Penitentiary” (The International Journal of Community Music, 2010); and “Sounding Lockdown: Singing in Administrative Segregation at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women” (with Consuela Gaines for Popular Music and the Politics of Hope, eds. Susan Fast and Craig Jennex, Routledge, 2019).

David Sampé

Washington, D.C., 1993. David Sampé was 19 years old and confined at a Correction Corporation of America (now Civic Corps) facility, the first wave of prisons for profit. He was placed in a youth Act Program that kept him, and others like him, locked in a 6’x9’ cell for eight months, 23½ hours a day. A part of him that went into that box never came out. Broken, like Humpty Dumpty, he was left to put himself back together again. Several years later, after multiple arrests and felony convictions, he became mentally unhinged and spiraled out of control. 

Over the course of 25 years he has reconstructed his mind piece by piece and, through the practice of mindfulness and meditation, has turned a broken mind into a resilient one. These experiences have equipped him with the tools to guide men and women coming home from prison  out of their fractured state and back into balance. 

David formed Article730 in 2015 to act as a vessel that can guide returning citizens to a healthy life beyond their mental confinement. In 2018, Article730 moved from New York to its new home in Washington D.C. and added to its mission. Taking the Fredrick Douglas quote “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” Article730 went into public middle schools with the goal of eradicating all in-school suspension/detention centers and establishing Wellness Centers as an alternative. In 2019, David Sampé was asked to join the YES! for Schools family to train school teachers mindfulness and the power of meditation and became a Senior Production Advisor to the One in Four podcast, which focuses on humanizing, educating and elevating the conversation about re-entry of the formerly incarcerated. David recently joined the team of Aspire Side Hustle as a Wellness and Meditation Coach, where he stays devoted to not only making a change in the community but changing the narrative entirely, and was invited to join the board of PAVE (Parents Amplified Voices in Education), a non-profit organization that partners parents and leaders with schools and policymakers to develop diverse, safe, and nurturing schools for every child.

Kofi Dennis

Kofi Dennis is a drummer, performer, and educator. He earned a degree in Early Childhood Education at the Komenda Teaching College, University of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa, and a degree in Theater Arts (creative dramatics) from the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana. Before moving to the United States in 1995, Kofi taught academics and lead performing arts programs at schools, correctional facilities, orphanages, and child-care centers in Ghana. He also starred in radio and stage theaters, television and video productions in Ghana. Since being in the DC metro area, Kofi has educated and entertained as a drummer, storyteller, singer, and dancer at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Discovery Theater, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Wolf Trap’s Theater in the Woods and Filene Center. He has taught creative drama at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia in Annandale for the past 10 years and has been a Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist since 1998. He is recognized as a master teacher/trainer and presenter of West African Culture. Kofi runs Play for Concepts and teaches in DC area detention facilities through Artivate‘s Project Youth Arts Reach. He has worked with World Children’s Choir to lead an African drumming for peace initiative and performs as half of the duo Anansegromma, presenting music, dance, drums, games, and stories.

Tickets are required for this event and can be purchased here:


Here’s to a new year and a growing movement of artists, activists, advocates, and allies dedicated to harnessing the power of the arts to reimagine justice.


Join our mailing list to receive event updates!