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The Real Cost of Prisons --An interview with Lois Ahrens

The racist sub-text of the neo-liberal political agenda succeeded in creating acceptance of mass incarceration while simultaneously creating the laws and industries to police, prosecute, cage and control millions of peopleĀ—almost all poor people and people of color. Neo-liberal policies have been in place for more than thirty years. As a result many people are not aware that our current political and economic situation is not the result of a natural course of events, but rather, of a systemically created ideology that has pervaded every aspect of our daily lives.

Lois Ahrens is the Founder/Director of The Real Cost of Prisons Project (RCPP) and has been an activist/organizer for more than 40 years. First started in 2001, RCPP brings together justice activists, artists, justice policy researchers and people directly experiencing the impact of mass incarceration to work together to end the U.S. prison nation. RCPP created workshops, a website that includes sections of writing and 'comix' by prisoners, a daily news blog focused on mass incarceration and three comic books that were first created in 2005: Prisoners Town: Paying the Price; Prisoners of the War on Drugs; and Prisoners of a Hard Life: Women and Their Children. Hundreds of organizations around the country use the comix in workshops, outreach and organizing. 135,000 have been printed, while over 115,000 have been sent, free of charge, to organizations and thousands of people held in prisons and jails. Due to lack of funding, Prison Town is now out of print and Prisoners of A Hard Life will soon be as well. Prisoners of the War on Drugs is still available. Print-ready versions of all three are available to view and download here.

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