Prisons and Activism in the Pandemic: How Survivors of Incarceration Shift What Civic Participation Means


  • Alexandra Friedman University of Michigan
  • Ashley Lucas Uni versity of Michigan
  • Efrén Paredes



Prisão, Ativismo, Cidadania, Boletim informativo da prisão, Web series, Programação artística da prisão


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, currently and formerly incarcerated people in the state of Michigan in the United States are partnering with writers and artists in the free world to make themselves more visible in this moment of crisis. This article looks at three case studies (the MYLIFEMATTERSTOO newsletter, the Living on Loss of Privileges web series, and correspondence programming at the Prison Creative Arts Project) in which people in prison and those who have been recently released are using their creativity and networks of supporters to assert their voices and rights. In doing so, they insist that they are citizens actively participating in free world communities.


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Biografia do Autor

Alexandra Friedman, University of Michigan

Is a research assistant for the Carceral State Project at the University of Michigan and is currently the Associate Producer of the web series Living on Loss of Privileges: What We Learned in Prison. She recently graduated from UM with dual master's degrees in Social Work and Music. During her studies, Friedman focused on exploring how music can be used as a tool for community empowerment and growth. 

Ashley Lucas, Uni versity of Michigan

Is associate professor of Theatre & Drama and the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She is the former director of the Prison Creative Arts Project and the co-principal investigator of the Carceral State Project. Her book Prison Theatre and the Global Crisis of Incarceration (Bloomsbury, 2020) examines the ways in which incarcerated people use theatre to counteract the dehumanizing forces of the prison. Lucas is also the author of an ethnographic play about the families of prisoners entitled Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass, which she has performed as a one-woman show throughout the U.S. and in Ireland, Brazil, and Canada. She runs the PCAP Brazil Exchange—an exchange program with the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro and the Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina—taking students to Rio and Florianópolis each summer to do theatre work inside prisons, hospitals, and favelas.

Efrén Paredes

Is a journalist, thought leader, and social justice changemaker who has been incarcerated in Michigan 31 years. He has spoken at events on university campuses around the nation via phone and frequently appears on TV/radio/podcasts discussing criminal justice issues, Black and Latinx Studies, and conflict resolution. His social justice writings are also featured on various websites and blogs. To learn more about Efrén visit


Bates, Patrick, and Cozine Welch. Interviewed by Ashley Lucas. Personal Interview. Digital. June 18, 2020.

“Felony Disenfranchisement Laws (Map),” American Civil Liberties Union website,, retrieved 11 August 2020.

Ferrell, Ricardo. Email to Alexandra Friedman, Ann Arbor, MI, August 10, 2020.

Jones, Quentin. Email to Alexandra Friedman, Ann Arbor, MI, August 10, 2020.

Price, Joshua. Prison and Social Death. Critical Issues in Crime and Society. New Brunswick, NJ : Rutgers University Press, 2015. Accessed August 15, 2020., p. 115.

Ross, Jeffrey Ian. "Resisting the Carceral State: Prisoner Resistance from the Bottom Up." Social Justice 36, no. 3 (117) (2009): 28-45. Accessed August 17, 2020.

Ruud, Marianne Teresa. “MYLIFEMATTERSTOO.” Email, 2020.

Wacquant, Loïc. "Prisoner Reentry as Myth and Ceremony." Dialectical Anthropology 34, no. 4 (2010): 605-20. Accessed August 28, 2020., p. 614.




Como Citar

FRIEDMAN, Alexandra; LUCAS, Ashley; PAREDES, Efrén. Prisons and Activism in the Pandemic: How Survivors of Incarceration Shift What Civic Participation Means. Urdimento - Revista de Estudos em Artes Cênicas, Florianópolis, v. 3, n. 39, p. 1–22, 2020. DOI: 10.5965/14145731033920200103. Disponível em: Acesso em: 18 maio. 2024.



Dossiê temático: Artes da Cena atrás das grades