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Prison Transformation AMP

Each year the Upper School holds a fall AMP titled Prison Transformation. This group makes a promise to partner organizations PLEJ and Human Rights Pen Pals, “to amplify the voices of those who are incarcerated.” This articles serves to share their stories with the community. 
 
 
This year, through letters and phone calls, we got to know two men, Paul Redd and Mr. Sangu. Both men shared with us that prior to being incarcerated, they had not encountered racism in their lives. It was when they found themselves in the prison system that they realized that racism was institutionalized in America’s criminal justice system. They spoke about their experiences, which led them to the judgement that slavery is alive and well in America’s criminal justice system and very invisible to the average citizen because it is not commonly reported in the mainstream media cycle.
 
In this year’s AMP we also visited and interviewed Dr. Eric Trupin, Juvenile Justice Youth Advocate, and Starcia Ague, a formally incarcerated teen who is now the Youth and Family Advocate Program Administrator in King County. Finally, we had an unusual opportunity to visit the King County Juvenile Courthouse to observe one of King County’s successful youth diversion programs that is utilizing restorative justice and the circle process to keep youth out of the school to prison pipeline. Click here to read more about this initiative.   
 
In our AMP conversations, we also utilized the circle process to help students metabolize complex layers of race and institutional racism and to identify and process what arose for each of us as we were working together in this AMP.
 
Our last class was a creative writing assignment in response to the prompt: What have you learned that you want to share with the class?
 
Emma Todd wrote a beautiful poem which is shared below:
 
“What I Have Learned Through Prison Transformation AMP Poem”
 
What I have Learned in this short amount of time, is something that sends fear through my bones
 
Our Constitution says that all men are created equal so, if that is the case, then why are people of color being treated like slaves in a place that many of them were wrongfully convicted to go
 
Why the big corporations getting all the profit by filling up cells and using warm bodies as place holders even if they don't deserve to be there. Ruining the lives of those individuals just so a few more zeros can be added to the number on that paycheck they open as they sit in their million-dollar house at the dinner table where their family eats a hot full meal. While those prisoners sit in a cold cell knowing that their family is sitting in a house with soup for dinner because their partner can't make enough money by themself to support the family.
 
With blue and red blood spilled on the prison floor as a gang member gets killed while the guard stand by and watches. Whether or not you're in a gang, you better make sure you don't have a picture or you might be the one on the floor.
 
Why is this world making people live in a solitary cell where they can't get enough fresh air, slowly going crazy as they hear the others scream and cry and call, why are we making people live this way, because honestly it's not living at all.
 
Not letting people out of solitary confinement until they get hurt enough for someone to notice.
 
When you have to take away the clothes of a prisoner so that they don't use their shirt to kill themself should be a sign that something is not right.
 
Young kids, Children being tried as if they were the same age as the role models they were supposed to look up to. On minor crimes like that one time they tried weed, that are not worth locking them up all alone as their brains are still just a seed, still developing, needing skills to survive in the world like communication but ending up with nothing, no human connection.
 
Taking away the only thing that gives these people hope like seeing their little girl at a minimum of once a week. Watching her grow up behind a glass window. Letting her grow up without a parent, growing up with one foot in the pond of the prison system.
 
What I have Learned in this short amount of time, is something that sends fear through my bones.

The AMP is led by faculty members Susanne Eckert and Kristin McInaney. 
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Kristin McInaney
Experiential Education Program Manager
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