Dear Mr. President,
One of the most shocking injustices associated with mass incarceration is the fact that our prisons have become a dumping ground for people who have experienced severe trauma, resulting in mental health issues. Instead of receiving needed treatment, they are subjected to additional abuse and mistreatment.
Taylar Neuvelle served four and a half years after she was charged with breaking and entering the house of a former girlfriend and attempting to commit suicide. Taylar was diagnosed with PTSD, trauma, and severe anxiety disorder, and a pre-sentence report recommended that she be treated rather than sent to prison, but the judge overruled this recommendation. In prison, rather than receiving treatment, she was raped, locked in solitary confinement and placed on suicide watch.
Working with Taylar and my wife Gabriela, we adopted a strategy that allowed Taylar to represent her intimate stories and memories. First, we photographed her, and Taylar then took the photographs and distressed them to represent her abuse and mistreatment. By sharing her traumatic experiences with us,
Taylar is opening the door for others to find their voices and bring about much-needed reforms.