Kriston Jae Bethel  (Un)Incarcerated - A Multimedia Documentary Project on Incarceration and Reentry Update #1

I wanted to provide a bit of background on myself and the inspiration behind (Un)Incarcerated. I work as an independent editorial and documentary photographer, covering stories in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. I also teach journalism at Temple University, where I graduated with a degree in journalism and political science. Last year, I spent time helping behind the scenes on some reporting with The Reentry Project, a collaborative between various Philly newsrooms to cover stories on prisoners returning to their communities and the people who are helping them do it.

Back in November, I attended The Reentry Blueprint: Stories and Solutions from the Formerly Incarcerated, a night of short, TED Talk-style conversations that highlighted problems and presented solutions to issues of reentry. Near the start of the evening's event, anyone who had ever been to prison was invited to stand up and be acknowledged. Given the nature of the event, I knew the formerly incarcerated were obviously among the crowd, mixed in with community. But even after spending months covering these issues myself, I was still surprised by the number and diversity of people that stood, fracturing my expectations for age, gender and ethnicity.

Bringing that moment to others is at the heart of (Un)Incarcerated. To develop a project that recreates and expands on that experience. To break down the wall that is built up around the 1-in-6 people in Philadelphia that have been incarcerated, despite having served their time. To both challenge how we see the formerly incarcerated and to better educate ourselves on their experience.