amyelkins

Image: Amy Elkins, from the series Black Is The Day, Black Is The Night

Before my celebration, last week, of Arthur Longworth‘s CLO Conference presentation, I had no idea his work was to be featured once more on The Marshall Project. As part of TMP’s ongoing Life Inside series, Longworth wrote about being moved between cells. This excerpt stood out:

Now I’m loading up my pictures. Here’s one of the former warden and his wife, who have visited me over the years, welcomed me into their family, and spoken out for my release.

There is so little solidity in prison, so little to depend on, that a picture like this — or a cell that’s mine, that’s home, that I can always return to — is a treasure.

Longworth’s appreciation for a former-warden’s support is thrilling, clever and effective. Longworth gently turns over our preconceived notions of friend and foe. A man of uniform has welcomed a prisoner into his family? If our stereotypes of law enforcement dissolve then what of our stereotypes of prisoners? Well, just read Arthur Longworth’s words. And those of thousands of other prison writers, for that matter.

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