Jesse- Artist/Returning Citizen

“Federal prison is a lot different from the state, even the prison politics operates on a whole different level. In the state its all geopolitical; its Pittsburgh Vs Philly, or Harrisburg Vs Lancaster. In federal system its international criminal organizations, so it gets broken down into race. There are all these tribal hierarchies that exist in there, within the race they break down into separate gangs. But a lot of that is designed into the system, designed to create those divisions in people so that, when they keep people divided against themselves they don’t rise up against the institution.

Art was the way that I disconnected from all the stuff that was going on around me, I knew it was designed for that, things would happen, and you would feel angry, they would treat you like you were less of a person, like you were something other. That kind of treatment on a day to day basis, creates anger, resentment, and all these negative feelings. I recognize that is what they want you to feel so that you join the gangs, or get involved in violent outbursts or make impulsive decisions. Its really designed to force you into that criminal way of thinking and being. So what I did to disconnect from that personally was stay to myself and make artwork every day all day. ”

“I wasn’t anti social before I went in. When I went in I stayed to myself so much, I lived and created my own world, I formed friendships with select people, but at the same time I was very insular, and heavily guarded. I was always on high alert. That made me distrustful of people I didn’t know in a way that I never was before. SO when I came home, I was very reserved, and learned to speak to people again, and open myself up and be kind of vulnerable in a way that you just can’t be in there. If you want to be successful you have to open yourself up again, you can’t stay walled off or else when there is a problem, the chance of you going to talk to someone is low, and the chance of doing what you know to solve whatever problem it is you’re facing is high, because you don’t seek help in other people. And a lot of people don’t even have that support available. Thats why when a lot of people come home, a lot of people fail.

Jesse Krimes- Artist/Returning Citizen

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