Phillip Roberts had been incarcerated twice, spending two years away from his family, friends, and society. While serving those sentences, he also put pen to paper as part of the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. The program provides those serving time with a positive and creative outlet during one of the most challenging times of their lives.
The 29-year-old tattoo artist and father is now using his writing and experiences behind bars to help a group of strangers better understand mass incarceration. They had gathered as part of a community discussion planned by SPEA graduate students in the Public Policy Process course.
Roberts opened the event by reading a poem he wrote while incarcerated.
“It was really powerful and set the mood for the evening,” says Madison Alton, a SPEA graduate student pursing an MPA in Nonprofit Management.
She and other students spent the entire fall semester researching mass incarceration, planning this event, and searching for ways to help their audience connect with the issue.