2018 Story Labs

Atlanta, GA

MASS STORY: unshackled narratives

spelman college



Currently, Georgia ranks #1 in the country for the number of persons under supervision by the criminal justice system. Most of the individuals incarcerated are poor and/or people of color. Of those, 54% of men in jail/prison are head of household, and 52% of incarcerated women are head of household. 1 in 28 American children have a parent in prison or jail. That is 2.7 million children. Not surprisingly, the communities from which these individuals come suffer tremendously.

Hosted in partnership with Spelman College in conjunction with Public Square, in collaboration with Atlanta partners Gideon’s PromiseCommon Good AtlantaWomen on the Rise and The Baton Foundation.

Featured Storytellers:

Edil Nour

Christina Garrett

Tariq Baiyina

Brian Kite

Phoenix, AZ

MASS STORY: cuentos de forteleza/stories of strength

burton burr central LIBRARY



Arizona’s Eloy Detention Center is the third largest immigrant detention facility in the nation. This special storytelling event will allows us to amplify the voices of activists, youth and LGTBQ+ people impacted by immigrant detention in Arizona and beyond.

Hosted in partnership with States of Incarceration and ASU’s School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies.

Featured Storytellers:

Gretta Soto Moreno

Celeste Andrade

Denisse Pesquiera

Guideon Cota

Zulay Barrera

Columbia, SC

MASS STORY: the impact of mass criminalization on our communitieS




One out of every three South Carolinians has a criminal record. Nationally, people with records face 48,000 laws and statutes, often called collateral consequences, that restrict and diminish their lives and redemptive potential.  The penalties that follow a conviction—including voter disenfranchisement and the loss of housing, healthcare, education, and employment—are deliberate choices that policymakers and legislators have made for years, and they function to marginalize and disenfranchise entire communities.  

Hosted in partnership with JustleadershipUSA and Public Square Media

Featured Storytellers:

Chris Cherry

Kelvin Jones

Brenda Lawson

Hameen Shabazz

Lester Young

Louisville, KY

MASS STORY: Our Families, Our Freedom. Stories from Families of the Incarcerated

The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage


Kentucky has the second highest rate of children with an incarcerated parent in the nation and it's time we address and remedy this issue.

Hosted in partnership with Second Chances and Public Square Media

Featured Storytellers:

Arnetta Moore

Savvy Shabazz

Tracy Chester

Trinadad Jackson

Shameka Perish Wright

New York, NY

Mass Story: Caught. Imagining the End of Youth Jails



Since before the founding of the juvenile court in 1899, the US has struggled over whether to treat juveniles that commit crimes like children that need to be reformed, or adults who need to be punished. Studies, stories, and statistics show that youth prisons have failed to help young people get back on track. How can we expect young people to thrive in adulthood when they’ve spent their formative years behind bars?

Hosted in partnership with WNYC Radio.

Featured Storytellers:

Tiffani Perkins

Vidal Guzman

Curintina Mulrain

Dwayne Betts

2017 Story Labs

Milwaukee, WI

Mass Story: #CLOSEmsdf

Marquette University


The Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) is a temporary holding facility for people who have had their parole or probation revoked. Thousands of people have been re-incarcerated there without being convicted of a crime. The inhumane conditions at MSDF have led to the deaths of at least 19 people. Join the campaign to close MSDF. 

Sponsored by EXPO (Ex-prisoners organizing) and the #CLOSEmsdf campaign.

Featured Storytellers:

Charles Hampton

William Harrell

Gregory Hicks 

Sharyl McFarland

Shirley Moffett

Rob Schreiber 

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Saratoga Springs, NY

Mass Story: Saratoga Springs

Skidmore College



The criminal justice system and the immigration detention systems work together to create a massive crimmigration network that includes jails, prisons, and detention facilities. How do these systems work together? How might formerly incarcerated and undocumented people stand in solidarity to end mass criminalization of Black and Brown communities? 

Featured Storytellers:

Romeo Cazun

Catalina Cazun

William Evans

Ira McKinley

Johnny Perez

Lewisburg, PA

Mass Story: Lewisburg

Bucknell University



Incarceration and Mental Illness

How do we support people who are coming home with serious mental illness and/or addiction? Too often people who need medical care are arrested and placed in jails and prisons where their medical needs go unmet. Does incarcerating people with addiction or mental illness make us safer or expand a growing public health crisis? 

Featured Storytellers:

Trevor Jacobs

Chris Rock

Walter Everett

Jeanette Myers

John Kennedy

Sponsored by The Lewisburg Prison Project

MSL Lewisburg Storytellers.JPG

New Orleans, LA

Mass Story: New Orleans

Cafe Reconcile 

1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd



Families Rising In The Face of Incarceration

A staggering 2. 7 Million children have a parent in prison. The deep consequences of incarceration on our communities begin with the family, often having long-lasting effects on our children. The costs of a parent’s incarceration are emotional as much as they are economic, and can no longer be ignored. It’s time that we listen to their stories.

Featured Storytellers:

Demetres Carter-Williams

Gerald Davis

Sheila Phipps

Freedom Richardson

Milo Washington 

Sponsored by University of New Orleans and Humanities Action's State of Incarceration

Indianapolis, IN


Mass Story: Indianapolis

Central Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library

40 East St Clair Street, Indianapolis, IN


What are the challenges of your re-entry? What is the role of families in successful re-entry? What is the role of community organizations? What are the unique needs of people coping with mental illness or substance addiction when they come home from prison? Community based organizations come together with family members and clergy to map the resources available and share stories about the intersectional challenges of re-entry and recovery. 

Featured Storytellers:

Rev. William Alexander

Kimberly Comers

Thomas Ridley

Jeffery Robertson

Jarrod Wall

Cecelia Whitfield 

Miami, FL

University of Miami

Wesley Foundation Building 1210 Standford drive, coral Gables, Fl 

2.4.17 2-5pm


The Krome Processing Center opened in 1980 to house the more than 100,000 migrants who arrived in the U.S from Haiti and Cuba. In this Mass Story Lab, we hear the stories of people detained Krome over the last 35 years and others impacted by incarceration in Florida. How does the experience of detention impact a sense of community and belonging in Miami? In the era of Trump, what can we all do to protect those seeking sanctuary in the U.S? Hosted in conjunction with, "States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue on Local Histories"

Featured Storytellers:

Glenn Hutchinson

Sony Gerce

Marie Micheline Mondestin

Peggy Mustelier

Barbara Woshinski

Sponsored by University of Miami Office of Civic and Community Engagement and Humanities Action Lab. 

 2016 Story Labs

New York, NY

Mass Story: Rikers Island

Theresa Lang Community & Student Center, The New School


How do we close Rikers Island and build stronger communities?  Hosted in partnership with JustleadershipUSA and Humanities Action Lab. 

To learn more about the JustleadershipUSA's efforts to #CloseRikers visit www.closerikers.org

Featured Storytellers: 

Khalil Cumberbatch

Xena Grandichelli

Vidal Guzman

Darren Mack

Anna Pastoressa

 Johnny Perez


Austin, TX

Mass Story: The Texas incarceration maze

Goldsmith Hall, UT Austin


What are the intersections of mass incarceration and mass detention? Our Austin lab was a multi-lingual sharing of stories of people who have experienced Texas Incarceration Maze.  

Sponsored by Humanities Action Lab's "States of Incarceration" exhibit, Grassroots Leadership, and the Austin/Travis County Re-Entry Roundtable. Learn more about States of Incarceration exhibit at www.statesofincarceration.org

Featured Storytellers:

Deivi Cruz,

Lewis Conway

Sulma Franco

Karen Keith

Sylvia Rodriguez Zuvieta

Reggie Smith


This system is cruel, corrupt, and often inhumane. If we don’t speak, if we don’t share the stories, no one will ever know what is going on.
— Karen Keith, Austin Storyteller

Greensboro, NC

Mass Story: Greensboro

International Civil Rights Center and Museum, UNC Greensboro


What are the challenges and barriers to a successful reentry after prison? In every state, formerly incarcerated people are legally discriminated against in housing, employment, education, and more. Students from UNCG brought Mass Story Lab to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum to promote empathy, healing, reform, and justice. 

Featured Storytellers:

LaMonte Armstrong

Anita Bennett

Lacy Colon

Tiffany Kallam

Sherrill Roland

I think that stories are very useful because you’re hearing a part of their life, you’re hearing their pain, you’re hearing their struggle. Someone hears a story and that sparks a transformation for the justice system.
— Willie Pettiford, Greensboro Storyteller