Broken? Stories



A key element of PROOF's advocacy work is the use of personal stories. Currently featuring stories from our exhibitions, "Broken?" and "Ferguson Voices: Disrupting the Frame", PROOF invites you to click below to hear first-hand some of the stories of the upstanders, activists, and those directly affected by injustice who we have worked with to learn about moral courage through personal experience.

Our Picture Justice 2015-16 program: Broken? examined the United States' criminal justice system. The program explored racial disparities in the War on Drugs, mandatory minimum sentences that warehouse nonviolent offenders for inordinate amounts of time, the torture of solitary confinement, the experiences of children whose parents were incarcerated, the criminalization of addiction and mental health issues, and the role of advocates who are working to change this system. 

Hear below some of the stories, experiences, and lessons of those impacted by the United States' criminal justice system.


"All my life I never knew where I was supposed to be or where I was going or what my life was and when I walked into this Castle it was an overwhelming feeling of 'Oh my God, I made it. This is where I belong, this is where I'm supposed to be."
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"People recreate families in prison. They get a mother, they get a father, they make daughters. You hear people saying, “I’m going over to visit my aunts.” They build these entire families and as you come in, you get integrated."
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Most of my prison time was due to my drug usage (...) Jail for me became another way of life, in accordance with my drug usage. My drug usage led to my jail time, my jail time led to my mental demise, because I stopped caring about anything."
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"If the apple don’t fall too far from the tree, right. So if your mother is in prison, your father is in prison, your cousin, your brother. You feel that guilt and, you know, then people look at you like, you are from the same blood you are capable of doing the same things." Read more

"I fundamentally believe that youth and families who have been impacted by the justice system have a voice, and if that voice is channeled, they themselves can advocate for whatever needs they want or resolve whatever problems they have." Read more

"I think right now, the most important part of me is that I’m a parent. And specifically a parent of three young men of color, who for a variety of reasons, are living the issues that I work around. And work becomes a lot easier when there is a personal reason to do it." Read more

Broken?: The Exhibit

The "Broken?" exhibition is a collection of stories on the criminal justice system gathered by the participants of PROOF's Picture Justice program over 2015-16. The exhibition has been displayed at the United Nations International School and Photoville in Brooklyn, among other locations.

PROOF runs the Picture Justice program at key times each year. If you are interested in running the Picture Justice program at your school, or would like to participate in the program, we'd love to hear from you. Please contact us today, or click here to find out more about how you can get involved.

This exhibition is also available for hire. Contact PROOF for more information, or visit our exhibition hire page for more details. Please also take a look at the booklet below, which has accompanied the exhibition.


Photo credit to PROOF's 2015 and 2016 Picture Justice students.