The Prison Public Memory Project uses history, dialogue, the arts and technology to build public memory and safe spaces where people from all walks of life can come together to engage in conversation and learning about the complex and contested role of prisons in communities and society.
The Project has ambitious plans to work with local individuals and organizations in communities with prisons across the country to recover, preserve, interpret, present and honor the memories of what took place in those institutions, integrating community knowledge with more traditional forms of historic preservation.
Through a variety of creative, educational and participatory activities, The Project also hopes to help communities facing closure of their prisons to connect with their pasts in imagining and planning for new futures.
All prisons close at some point and the reasons for closure vary — buildings that are too old or outdated; changes in thinking about crime and punishment; a recession; a scandal. The United States is currently experiencing an unprecedented number of prison closures with several states, including New York, closing multiple prisons.
Too often, when the gates are locked, workers retired or reassigned and the prisoners transferred elsewhere, the stories, photos, and artifacts – the prison memories of people obscure, famous and infamous — are scattered and forever lost. We think this is a wasted opportunity.
We are starting in Hudson NY.