COVID-19 & The Writing on the Wall

Multimedia Web Platform
November 24, 2019

COVID-19 & The Writing on the Wall

COVID-19 made the world recognize that detention is death.
Social distancing is impossible behind bars. Incarcerated people are disproportionately affected by underlying health conditions known to exacerbate COVID-19. They are we—because we are all in this together: a pandemic impacting people over there comes back to harm us out here.

The pandemic, though, has become a portal. This is not a time for mere Band-Aids and charities—it is a time for systemic change and radical re-imagination of justice.

INN calls on the US and other nations to #DefundThePrisons and invest in communities.

This means demanding both immediate reform—like swift actions to reduce prison and jail populations; the provision of reentry support to those returning from detention; the retooling of court practices and government policies, especially around drug crime, state supervision and petty offenses—and pushing for long-term systemic change that moves spending away from futile punishment and devastating harm and toward community justice, which truly generates peace. Learn more about what this #DefundThePrisons effort looks like in our brief here.

INN is supporting its global justice partners by being a connective resource via which powerful justice practices are shared and developed. We amplify and elevate the work of our partners via our social media outlets and digital projects such as INN-TV, a short film series about global mass incarceration, currently in production.

We have also reconfigured The Writing on the Wall: a shape-shifting, pop-up art installation made from writing by people in prison around the world, in partnership with the acclaimed visual artist Hank Willis Thomas, the nonprofit architecture firm MASS Design Group, the production team Openbox and the creative agency Chemistry Creative. In an effort to center the words of those directly impacted at the heart of the fight for prison reimagining, the installation has been displayed in public spaces as a form of verbal and visual intrusion. Each debut of The Writing on the Wall is an event and ongoing campaign, coordinated in collaboration with local justice reform organizations and led by formerly incarcerated community leaders.

Now, we project words from The Writing on the Wall on the walls of impacted cities around the world as a reminder of those who suffer behind bars right now, a memorial to lives lost—and a call to action: We must #DefundThePrisons.

1. Get Informed & Join Advocacy Efforts:
Prison Policy Initiative is tracking examples of agencies taking meaningful steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in detention, and offers justice systems five ways to slow the pandemic:

2. Donate to organizations, including INN partners worldwide.
US partners with national reach include The Bail Project, ACLU & JustLeadership USA:

3. Donate to INN partners in particular countries by connecting with them via our Platform:

4. Follow INN on social media (@incarcerationnations). Like our posts; repost and circulate them, especially posts showcasing the efforts of our partners worldwide. Help us get the word out and demand government accountability, globally. Use the hashtag #DefundThePrisons.

5. Sign up below for the INN mailing list, to learn more about our global efforts and hear where The Writing on the Wall will appear next.