A Day at Stateville

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Location:  Chicago, IL
Project Description: 

A Day at Stateville is a play detailing newcomer’s first day at Stateville Correctional Facility in Joliet, Illinois. The play was conceived and written by inmates who took the prison’s “Life Transformation Through Communication” course, all of whom have life sentences without parole. It seeks to inspire community members to take action to reduce the number of at-risk youth entering prisons, and to advocate for the improvement of prison conditions. Former prisoners throughout Chicago perform the play in the form of a theatrical reading. Performances are followed by facilitated discussions with the audience, which have at times incorporated a panel of formerly incarcerated individuals and local youth workers. The discussions center on the need for youth and community members to interrupt the current schools-to-prison pipeline – to take steps toward creating street peace, to re-think safety, and to de-criminalize communities. Since February 2009, more than twenty readings of the play have been used to provoke discussion at alternative high schools, universities, youth groups, and other community settings. Organizations associated witht this project include: Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs; Southwest Community Coalition; the Children and Family Justice Center; and the Illinois Humanities Council.