Digital art which pays back debt, restoring justice and the dignity of returning citizens.
The essence of this project is respect for life and the restoration of dignity.
We help digitize artwork made by people who are, or have been, incarcerated. In collaboration with artists and community programs, we agree on how to split the funds raised by auctioning their art, and then encode this using a smart contract. Any proceeds are split programmatically. Everything we do is public, transparent, and verifiable.
The core purpose of our work is to pay Legal Financial Obligations. While sale splits are agreed consensually prior to any auction, the majority is used to pay the LFOs of th artist. This is because people in the USA can be reincarcerated simply for failure to pay their debts. We think this is unjust, and so have created a way to fund debt payments in which everyone wins, including the state.
*These statistics apply to the USA only.
Justice involved people incur financial obligations as a result of their history and incarceration, like restitution payments for victims, court fees, and driver's license reinstatement fees. Upon release, 88% of states re-incarcerate people for failure to pay back these debts, accounting for roughly 30% of recidivism in the US.
Low staff to incarcerated ratios mean less programs and more idle time. This leads to increased violence and illicit activity and decreased safety for everyone. Staffing challenges are increasing along with populations, which is further exacerbated by decreasing budgets. We must find a way of funding programs sustainably.
Returning citizens are unprepared. They have no skills, no job and looming financial debts incurred as a result of conviction. Their inability to pay obligatory debt leads to new crime or reincarceration and the majority of states rearrest simply for failure to pay.
Nationally, there are billions of dollars in uncollected debt. With decreasing revenue and increasing costs - be it policing, victimization, courts and legal fees, overcrowded jails and prisons, devolving communities and families, or generational criminals - the only solution to cover expenses is to increase the tax base.
There are pressing concerns like mental health and addiction which we don't have time to address given the burden of debt faced by most. Prisons are left to deal with these challenges, yet they are not established to be rehab, behavioral therapy, or mental health facilities.
The PR1S0N Art project teams up with existing art programs and community prison partners to create digital collections. Each collection is sold as an NFT on Ethereum. The funds raised from the sale are used to pay prisoner’s financial debts, reducing re-entry friction, re-incarceration rates, restoring dignity to the returning citizens and enabling government institutions to retrieve billions of dollars in uncollected debts.
Receipts from debt payments are added back to the collection, so a collector holds not just art, but the full transactional story of a human being's restorative journey.
The information associated with each collection is stored permanently on Ethereum and can be verified by anyone. This includes name, inmate ID, and jurisdiction, along with the digital artworks. The proceeds of any sale are handled by a smart contract, the source code for which anyone can also verify. This contract enforces the correct distribution of funds and cannot be intefered with.
The debt payments are handled by PR1S0N ART INC. a Florida 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. The receipts from these payments are are added to the information associated with the collection on Ethereum, so anyone can reconcile the sale amount with the total debt paid for each artist and ensure that everything balances.