Prison Industrial Project, 2017

Victor Veytsman and Kaylin Li

Getting Arrested

Everyone is biased. Even though we might not know it, we judge things and people in our everyday lives. But this really gets out of hand when a police officer, or even just a fellow civillian, in the case of Treyvon Martin, does something rash because of their racism. Black people are 250% more likely to be arrested as compared to a white person. Then, those people of color are being sent to prison because they cannot pay for bail.

Plea Bargain

The truth is, the prison industrial complex favours the rich over the innocent. The way that plea bargain works is that if someone gets arrested and they admit that they are guilty, then they have decreased jail time. If they don't take the plea bargain they can spend years in jail, like in the case of Kalief Browder, awaiting for trial, and even then there is a chance that the arrested person will be proven guilty and punished even more. Of course, a rich white male can pay bail instead of taking the plea bargain and get out of jail until his trial. Bail is on average 35% higher for black men than white men. Then, in his trial, he will be punished less.

Prison Labour

Slavery. We ended it in 1865 with the 13th amendment, right? Wrong. Here is the 13th amendment (article one): Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. That one small sentence allows everything that happened during the days of slavery to be illegal again, after someone has been convicted of a crime.

Prison Conditions

During the days of slavery, slaves were punished with famous cruelty. Yet when one goes into prison, those conditions and punishments are revitalized. According to the documentary 13th, there have been several cases of maggots being found in prisoner's food. People wouldn't keep their pets in the conditions that US prisoners are in. Solitary confinement is a great example of this. It is a very dehumanizing practice. Not being able to see anything or anyone but your cell for days and weeks can push someone to suicide, like in the case of Kalief Browder. He didn't even have a trial!

After Prison

After your sentence you get out of prison and everyone can just forget about it and go back to functioning in society, as a normal person. At least that's what we thought. But the Jim Crow laws, laws from after the "end" of slavery, start to become legal again in different forms after one has been convicted a felon. They find themselfes not being able to get jobs at even the lowest of businesses. They find themselfes not being allowed into public places. They must carry that sign with them everywhere they go. Jim Crow becomes legal again after you've been convicted a felon.

Artistic Statement - Victor Veytsman

The prison industrial complex is unjust and should be reformed. I decided to team up with Kaylin to create a musically backed animation along with an online presentation because my two greatest passions are music and programming and I feel like I can really express my feelings through my music, wrapping it all up in a beautiful website design. The racism of Prison Industrial Complex is an extremely sad subject, warranting a dark, monotone design. My project focuses on the five main problems with the prison industrial complex. The first one is outside of the complex itself, though, as it starts with getting arrested. The music starts slowly, in a minor key, but gets more urgent, faster in speed, ending in the sad note of detainment. The second issue is of plea bargain, where someone can admit they're guilty to lessen their sentence. Here, most people have no choice, as not taking plea bargain can lead to years in jail before getting a trial. That is why while the first part of the section starts by going into a major key in the end, the second part doesn't have a major counterpart. Third is the issue of prison labour. We frown at sweatshops in other, 3rd world countries, but here we take our prisoners and sell them like slaves to the highest bidder. The music for this part is very laborious and difficult to perform to reflect this. Our fourth issue is prison conditions. There have been countless reports of sub-par health care and maggots in the food inside of prisons. Cells are tiny and dirty and horrible, and solitary confinement is killing people slowly. The music during this part is high and slow, making it uncomfortable to listen to. The last issue goes outside of the prison industrial complex again to the experience prisoners receive after prison. They will find trouble trying to get accepted into jobs, and people who get out of prison might receive as little as a $5 food coupon to bring them back into the world. The music reflects this by starting out happy, but turning sad and minor and ending at the starting note to show how the cycle of oppression will never end.

Artistic Statement - Kaylin Li

My insight is about the Prison Industrial Complex and its many faults. The inspiration for my project is the documentary 13th because it was really touching and explained the prison industrial complex very well. The process of my art is really tedious. My animation took a long time, transferring, tracing and piecing it together, over and over again. I used my computer, but did not have a good tool to put many, many frames together (I must have had about 60 frames!). Multiple times, my work got deleted because the computer kept restarting on it's own. In the animation, it shows what went through my head when I heard about the flaws in the PIC. The connections between the treatments of prisoners and the treatment of slaves are extremely similar. I have always had an interest in art, with each piece I draw/animate teaching me something new, or breaking through my wall of comfort into the world of the unknown. Not Everything I draw may turn out beautiful, but at least I enjoy drawing it.