We pay a high price when our loved ones are entangled in a punitive justice system that often leads to incarceration. The Sentence Unseen bears witness to the impacts of the US criminal justice system when family members are taken away from our community. The exhibit sheds light on the collateral consequences of arrest and incarceration on children, youth, families, and communities while celebrating the heart and resiliency of those impacted.
Documentary photographer Ruth Morgan and visual artist Dee Morizono collaborated with incarcerated men and women, children of incarcerated parents, and youth that were arrested but were ultimately diverted from entering the system. The exhibit includes compelling large-format photographs, video diaries, stories, and multi-media artwork to challenge assumptions about those currently behind bars and those facing incarceration, particularly youth, and the impact on their families.
The exhibit is divided into four sections:
  • Portraits of resilience: the faces and words of youth in still images/video,
  • Restorative/healing art created by incarcerated men and women,
  • Growth charts: experiences of youth with incarcerated parents
  • Mixed-media art illustrating the process of restorative justice youth diversion programming
View a compilation of the art online here.
All the work in The Sentence Unseen reflects the healing and restoration that incarcerated people, youth, and survivors experience through Community Works’ restorative justice processes. It was displayed on Alcatraz Island and at the African American Museum & Library 2016.
Comments on The Sentence Unseen
"Each piece is so meaningful and so accurately depicts the major impact of incarceration on every level. This message needs to get out to the world."
"Thank you to all who shared their story. A powerful message of HOPE for any other kids struggling to identify in this world."
"This has given me the courage to try contact my father. I haven’t spoken to him since just before his arrest and have been holding on to a lot of anger – you’ve guys have shown there is more people like me so I thank you."
"I feel full of inspiration, hope and motivated after seeing this remarkable work. Thank you for putting this exhibit together and making the voice of the invisible come to life."
Chronicle of Social Change reports on the full impact of the exhibit after its display on Alcatraz & Oakland Tribune columnist Tammy Dummond reports on parallel sentence served by children of incarcerated parents. The Bay Area Reporter highlighted relevance to LGBTQ communities and Univision reported on the exhibition opening at the African American Museum & Library.