OCTOBER 25, 2015: Prison abolitionist stages post-criminal satire by caging himself outside the Manhattan Detention Complex on Sunday, October 25th, the day the first penitentiary was established in the United States.
I will be handcuffed and sealed into a freestanding steel cage, and placed by a team in the middle of the intersection of Center and White St. at 12-noon, unable to get out. I am staging this disruption because the scandal of mass criminalization, incarceration, and neglect in America is horrific, inhumane, and an issue of grave urgency.
Not only do we need to pass the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 – We should abolish prison as the dominant mode of punishment and move toward a non-retributive, reconciliatory, restorative justice to address the issues prisons attempt to address but cannot.
By displacing the caged person from behind the walls to the middle of the street, and rendering what is too often invisible visible, I hope to add some emotional depth to the public discussion on prison reform, mental health, and race in America.
Lech Szporer is an interdisciplinary artist, organizer, musician, and writer focusing on the relationship between art, social change, public scholarship, and community history. He is co-founder and director of Give Kids Your Instruments, a nonprofit that secures resources for music and arts education for young people growing up in lower income communities and areas emerging from conflict. A graduate of The New School for Public Engagement, Lech also has a lifetime of street knowledge. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and Washington DC.
Upcoming exhibit: Burial for the Rebellion: Studies in Post-Criminality, December 16th-31st, Y Gallery, 319 Grand St. 5th Floor, New York, NY 10002