Care Not Cages: A People’s Guide to Healing

A Prison Renaissance Zine & Video Collaboration

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In early 2018,

Prison Renaissance teamed up with Decarcerate Alameda County, a group of organizers in Oakland fighting to close jails and push local government to prioritize alternatives to incarceration for folks facing mental health crises. To lift up the voices of our folks behind bars, Decarcerate Alameda County and Prison Renaissance dreamt up Care Not Cages: A People’s Guide to Healing—a  zine and video series featuring incarcerated artists.

The Launch Event

You are invited to a zine and video launch of a poetry, art, and video project on mental health by artists inside California jails and prisons. Artists will call in from inside and discuss the power of healing art practice and perform their pieces. Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Doors open at 1pm. Program from 1:30-4:30pm.

Impact Justice Loft, 2633 Telegraph Ave., Suite 315, Oakland, CA 94612

Please RSVP since we have limited space.


The Zine


Click here to view the downloadable version.

Through the mediums of comics, illustrations, written pieces, poetry, and other creative works, Care Not Cages: A People’s Guide to Healing reveals the ways that people behind bars practice self and community care. We know our people have practices on the inside and outside to cope with the isolation, trauma, and deprivation they experience while incarcerated. This zine creates channels of access for folks to share their resiliency and empowerment practices with one another and communities on the outside.


The Videos

Prison Renaissance co-founder Rahsaan Thomas directed and edited two short films for the Care Not Cages project, co-produced by Brian Asey, with original music by Eric “Maserati E” Abercrombie. The films features conversations with artists and visionaries inside who describe their self-care practices, including the group role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, and their roots in the Bay Area.


Losing My Mind


In this short film, Hamisi K. Spears (Ski), Timothy (TBone) Hicks, James R. Metters Jr, and Eugene (ShayLee) Williams discuss the impact that incarceration has on their connections to their family and communities on the outside. These artists, writers, musicians, fathers, sons, and brothers discuss the ways they’ve used their artistic practices to heal and focus their energy to counteract all the of ways the confines of prison affect mental health. “To deal with unbearable thoughts like never seeing their families again, these men have found creative ways of maintaining their sanity,” says director Rahsaan Thomas.


Dungeon Therapy

In this short film, featuring George "Mesro" Coles-El and Joseph Krauter, people talk about the self-care and community building practices they use to cope with the isolation and constraints of incarceration. "So there's a form of therapy that I have learned and it is called drama therapy and also role-playing therapy," says Mesro. "This allows for critical thinking in a safe setting. It allows for the imagination to be used in order to formulate an idea and a plan of what could happen or might happen in an interaction. Dungeons & Dragons does this for fun."


Second Life

Christian Collins, a filmmaker working on the outside, directed, edited, and produced “Second Life” a parallel film to “Dungeon Therapy”. Collins previously created a documentary film about UC Berkeley’s Underground Scholars program which you can watch here.

Care Not Cages Examines Self-Care Behind Bars

March 4, 2018, by Jordan Ranft for the East Bay Express, featuring insights from Prison Renaissance members Rahsaan and Emily, and Decarcerate Alameda County members Tash and Holly.

Click here to read the full version.

Introducing: Care Not Cages

The Abolitionist, issue 29, Summer 2018, Critical Resistance.

Click here to read the full version.