Rethinking the narratives of mass incarceration

The Long Term

Dayo Adeoye remembers seeing the barbed wire.

As an eighth-grader in Marysville, Ohio, she attended class in the shadow of mass incarceration. Down the street from her middle school is the Ohio Reformatory for Women, a state prison built on 260 acres of land. When it opened in 1916, it held 34 women. It now incarcerates more than 2,000.

“The idea of prison was always looming,” said Adeoye, now a second-year College student at the University of Chicago.

That was one reason why she was eager to enroll in “Narrating Social Change,” a course taught this spring by UChicago scholars Cathy Cohen and Alice Kim. For Adeoye, the criminal justice system had always felt close, but the aspiring attorney wanted to see it for herself—to learn from those who knew of its conditions firsthand.

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Developed by artists serving long-term sentences, the hand-drawn animation “The Long Term” was a product of Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project classes taught by Damon Locks and Sarah Ross. It was included in the “Narrating Social Change” syllabus. (Image courtesy of the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project)

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