IAHR Virtual Book Club Interviews

Waiting for An Echo: The Madness of American Incarceration by Christine Montross

On November 10th 2020 IAHR kicked off its Virtual Book Club by interviewing Dr. Christine Montross, the author of the book "Waiting for an Echo: The Madness of American Incarceration" Dr. Christine Montross has spent her career treating the most severely ill psychiatric patients. Several years ago, she set out to investigate why so many of her patients got caught up in the legal system when discharged from her care--and what happened to them therein. The stark world of American prisons is shocking for all who enter it. But Dr. Montross's expertise--the mind in crisis--allowed her to reckon with the human stories behind the bars.

Christine Elaine Montross is an American medical doctor and writer. First a published poet and a high school teacher, she later took up medical studies, and became an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University's Alpert Medical School. She is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship.

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The Torture Letters by Laurence Ralph

On October 20th 2020, IAHR had the honor of interviewing Professor Laurence Ralph, the author of "The Torture Letters." For more than fifty years, police officers who vowed to protect and serve have instead beaten, electrocuted, suffocated, and raped hundreds---perhaps---thousands of Chicago residents. In The Torture Letters, Laurence Ralph chronicles this history, the burgeoning activist movement against police violence, and the American public's complicity in perpetuating torture at home and abroad. Writing meditations on racism in the form of letters, Prof. Ralph offers a collection of open letters written to protestors, victims, students, and others.

Through these questioning, engaging letters, Prof. Ralph bears witness to the violence that began in Chicago's Area Two and follows the city's networks of torture to the War on Terror. Along the way, he amplifies the voices of torture's victims who are still with us and lends a voice to those long dead. The Torture Letters is an indictment of police violence and a fierce challenge to all Americans to demand an end to the systems that support it. (From the book's jacket with a few additions). Laurence Ralph is professor of anthropology at Princeton University. He is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living with Injury in Gangland Chicago, published by the University of Chicago Press.


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Creating Art in Prison-Wendy Jason and Carole Alden

On December 3rd 2020, IAHR hosted a pen pal meeting titled "Creating Art in Prison." The meeting was open to all and we had the pleasure of having two  guest speakers Carole Alden and Wendy Jason. Carole, a mother of 5, is a returning citizen who is self-taught in fiber art, ceramics, textiles, graphics, and welding. She was incarcerated at the age of 46 after an incident of extreme domestic violence. She was sentenced to a 2nd degree manslaughter charge. Carole currently lives in southern Utah where she is building a house shaped like a deep sea fish.

Wendy is the director of the Justice Arts Coalition which unites teaching artists, arts advocates, and currently and formerly incarcerated artists and allies, harnessing the transformative power of the arts to reimagine justice. This work stems from the premise that art can serve as connective tissue, weaving its way back and forth through prison walls to foster and strengthen relationships between people inside and out.

With 25 years of experience in social services, working in residential treatment, mental health centers, schools, shelters, prisons, and jails in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Alaska, New Mexico, Maryland, and DC, she understands the myriad challenges confronted by those most impacted by mass incarceration and the root causes of the injustices they face. Wendy is committed to supporting both individual and social change through cultivating relationships grounded in collaboration, trust, authenticity, empathy, and integrity.


Watch the interview below now!

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