Let’s Get Free and The Women Lifers Resume Project are releasing a multi-media campaign uplifting the stories of women and trans people serving death by incarceration called Life Cycles Toward Freedom. This August, the campaign launch will include a series of virtual film screenings, and in collaboration with Boom Concepts, will host an online art contest. The End Death By Incarceration Art Contest virtually opens on August 7 and runs through the end of October where attendees can take a tour of the art and hear from formerly incarcerated artist James “YaYa” Hough.
The aims of this project are to raise awareness, build support and to spark dialogue that may change the commutation process.
Each film screening will showcase the latest series of short films produced by Tusko which features currently incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. The films offer unique access to maximum security prison SCI Muncy and SCI Cambridge Springs. The films raise a number of pressing law and order issues: Does the commutation process need updating? Is LWOP out of date? Do these women have more to offer society?
On average Pennsylvania spends $42,727 a year per person in prison and this cost jumps to an estimated $52,000 for people over the age of 55. The women featured in the film have served three decades, four decades, and more. Experts agree they represent no threat yet they are left without hope of seeing home again – they are just “dying out loud”.
The film entitled Pennsylvania’s Commutation Process: Naomi Blount’s Experience takes you on one woman’s journey through the lengthy and arduous steps of the commutation process in hope of freedom. Naomi Blount was the second woman to receive commutation in the last 30 years and has been home for one year. Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a leader in PA’s commutation reform, is also featured in this film.
We Are More Than Our Worst Day, is a powerful 12 minute short that radiates resilience and the power to change that is widespread amongst people with death by incarceration sentences. This poignant vignette features the transformative journeys of Tequilla Fields, a leading church figure, and Tameka Flowers, a dancer, who are both seeking commutation.
The idea for the film You Deserve Better Than Prison: Messages to Youth from Women Serving Life was that of Avis Lee, who is currently awaiting a public hearing that will decide her freedom. This short piece offers some words of wisdom from women who are spending their life behind bars and warns people about what it’s like in Pennsylvania’s prison system.
People with life sentences make up the vast majority of the aging prison population, including Alice Green, who will be turning 90 this August. For the many sick and aging individuals in PA prisons, the spread of the Covid virus looms as a threat to life in an environment that is a breeding ground for contagious disease. The commutation process that is supposed to address inappropriate sentencing and offer relief to these individuals has been functionally frozen for more than three decades. This is an immediate crisis inside of the larger crisis of harsh and excessive sentencing; we demand clemency.
The Life Cycles Toward Freedom campaign is made possible by financial support from The Open Society Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Opportunity Fund.
August 2020 Life Cycles Toward Freedom Calendar of Events
- August 7: Friday – 7 – 8:30 pm End Death by Incarceration Art Show
- Opening Register Here for August 7th
- August 11: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30 pm Virtual Film Screening Premier
- Special Guest BL Shirelle: Confirmed!
- Register Here for August 11th
- August 18: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30pm Virtual Film Screening
- Special Guests: Naomi Blount
- [ Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Brandon Flood invited]
- Register Here for August 18th
- August 25: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30pm Virtual Film Screening
- Special Guests: Stanley Mitchell released in 2012 under the “Unger Ruling
- Additional Screening: The Ungers: A Matter of Time
- Register Here for August 25th