Oliger Merko, The Young Old Men at KCF.
Courtesy of Prison Creative Arts Project

This article comes from Guidepoints News from NADA Summer 2021 IssueSign-up to receive Guidepoints in your inbox quartlery. The Guidepoints newsletter is the only publication devoted to the sharing and dissemination of our NADA work on an international scale. Become a member to opt-in for a print copy. Check-out past issues.

NADA has had a long presence in the carceral state, starting in Hungary and Minnesota, and eventually expanding both nationally and internationally.

What is the carceral state? Nora Krinitsky, director of University of Michigan’s Carceral State Project, offers a working definition: “The term … often calls to mind institutions of confinement like jails, detention centers, prisons, but… it also comprises a wide range of policies, practices, and institutions that scrutinize individuals and communities both before and after their contact with the criminal justice system.”

To gain a better understanding of the reach of the carceral state, it helps to look at a chart published with 2020 data by the Prison Policy Initiative. It shows a breakdown of the almost 2.3 million people that live in confinement in the United States today.

On Thursday, October 14, 2021, NADA will host the meeting, Healing Inside Out: Health and Recovery in the Carceral State. This online meeting will explore how theater and visual art, research initiatives, innovative re-entry programs and mental health interventions promote healing in carceral and post-carceral settings. One of these interventions is the use of the NADA ear acupuncture protocol in jails, prisons, re-entry programs, juvenile detention centers and elsewhere.

The opening presentation will be a theater performance by the group, Maine Inside Out. MIO uses theater as a creative and educational outlet to examine the lived experience of systemic racism, and social and economic inequities. Young men who had been incarcerated at a juvenile detention facility in Maine are the actors and creators of the original theater pieces. Following the performance will be a Q&A with the meeting attendees.

Chino Loco, Free Style. Courtesy of Prison Creative Arts Project

Then the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) will talk about the theater and art workshops that students at the university can participate in as a way of fostering artistic collaboration, mutual learning, and growth between those impacted by the justice system and those in the U of M community. NADA obtained permission to use two of the paintings from PCAP’s 25th annual exhibition of art by Michigan prisoners in our flyers and outreach for the Healing Inside Out meeting.

The Urban Institute, a social policy research center, notes that despite the scale and impact of corrections institutions, they are among the least transparent and most understudied public institutions in the U.S. Jesse Jannetta, a senior policy fellow at the institute will talk about the progress of its Prison Research and Innovation Initiative,
which launched in 2019. He will also discuss the potential
impact of this research initiative on making prison environments more humane, safe and rehabilitative.

This September marks the 50th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. Heather Ann Thompson and David Rothenberg will offer a perspective on the impact of this uprising on the criminal justice system today. Thompson is the Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water : The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. She is also an historian at the University of Michigan and co-founder of the Carceral State Project there. Rothenberg is the founder of The Fortune Society, one of the nation’s leading re-entry service organizations. He is also an advocate for criminal justice reform and alternatives to incarceration. He hosts a radio show, Any Saturday.

Thompson and Rothenbeg will talk about what happened at Attica in the four days of mediation and dialogue before New York state troopers stormed the prison, leaving 43
dead and 89 injured in the bloodiest prison
conflict in U.S. history. Rothenberg came to Attica as one of thirty observers requested by the leaders of the uprising as witnesses to their negotiations with the state.

After a break, we will turn our attention to corrections settings that integrate the NADA protocol as a mental health and recovery intervention. There will be a screening of recorded testimonials from people who are presently or previously incarcerated. During a resurgence of covid-19 cases around the country, it is a great feat and testament of trust that NADA providers were granted permission to record these testimonials.

In closing, we will host an international panel of providers that have brought the NADA protocol into carceral contexts in Arizona, Colorado, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Norway.