I Wanted To Remind Us We Were People

by Elana Pritchard

About the guest blogger: Elana Pritchard is a cartoonist in Los Angeles.  Before she landed in jail she worked as an animator on Ralph Bakshi’s film, Last Days of Coney Island.  She is currently doing a Kickstarter to finish her animated cartoon, The Circus: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/341471863/the-circus

It’s been about a week since the comics I did inside the LA County jail system were first published in the LA Weekly, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the response.  People from all over the world have written to me expressing their support for what I have done and their contempt for inhumane practices for incarcerated peoples everywhere.  I have been in communication with the LA County Sheriff’s department and they have told me that due to these comics they have issued a new policy that all inmates must be given showers within 24 hours of entering the jail.  We are scheduled to meet next week to discuss further improvements.  And throughout all of this it seems the original, humble message of these comics is sticking: that we were people.  Even though we had a barcode on our wrist with a number and were called “bodies” by the staff, we were still people.

Many people in jail are still on trial and haven’t even been found guilty or innocent yet.  Many people made mistakes that you or I have made before in private, only they got caught.  There were mothers in there that missed their children.  There were kind people in there that cared about the arts and cared about each other.  I drew these comics to make us all laugh and remind us that even though there was a whole group of of people with badges and better clothes than we had telling us we didn’t matter… we DID matter and we WERE PEOPLE.

In that the comics were successful, and for that I am proud.

Elana Pritchard

All images were first published in the LA Weekly, 2015

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New Issue of BleakHouse Review Now Available

BleakHouse Publishing is proud to release our annual BleakHouse Review, an online literary magazine that serves as an outlet for original perspectives on the criminal justice system. BleakHouse Publishing devotes itself to the creative voices of the voiceless. You will hear from an array of talented American University students, as well as former inmates and current prisoners.

Blending shades of cynicism and hopeful feeling, these poets and storytellers will show you a side of justice you’ve never seen.  Alongside these short pieces are stunning (and often unsettling) photographs that capture in images what the writer captures in words.  These works will change your mind about the criminal justice system and what it means to be a criminal; ultimately, they will change your heart.

People are trapped by prison walls.  Prisoners and others are constrained by personal limitations they build for themselves.  The goal of the BleakHouse Review is not to make excuses for terrible crimes, but rather to shed a humane light on the very human men, women, and children who feel the brutality of a broken system every day.  In this magazine, you will also read “Momma” by Allison Kroboth, a prisoner at Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.  She adopts the perspective of a child, drawn from her own childhood, remembering in touching clarity the startling arrest of her mother, a caring woman with bad habits.

For many contributing students, this is their first time as published writers.  BleakHouse Publishing wants to uplift aspiring artists, propelling them in many instances to their first successes and urging them to use their creative gifts to generate awareness for social justice issues.

BleakHouse Review is edited by Dr. Robert Johnson, a Professor at American University, (literary content) and Carla Mavaddat (art and design). For the 2013 issue, we gratefully acknowledge the assistance and support provided by associate editor Jada Wittow.

A copy of the BleakHouse Review is available online for free on our website for a limited time.

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