Real Cost of Prison Comix on Culture

The Real Cost of Prisons Comix
by Stacy Davies
June 3, 2010

The Real Cost of Prisons Project (RCPP) director Lois Ahrens created the organization in 2000 to shine a spotlight on the more than 2 million people currently incarcerated in the U.S. Ahrens and her team are not interested in relieving convicts of personal responsibility, but instead focus on why so many people in our country are currently locked up—or mass-incarcerated. One of her goals was to create educational materials that could communicate complex ideas in real terms and make them interesting to people who had little use for data sheets and political talk. That led to 2008’s The Real Cost of Prisons Comix, a three-chapter graphic book illustrated by a host of talented artists and writers and filled with easy-to-understand histories of who really pays for the prison system, the “builders of the drug prison boom,” and the cycle of incarceration via government agencies such as multiple foster homes, low-paying jobs and the shame of circumstances. The book has been hailed by a dozen social activists, A People’s History of the United States author Howard Zinn among them. An innovative book, RCPP’s book is a harsh reality check for anyone who thinks every broken law deserves the maximum penalty, and should be a welcome resource for government agencies and drug law reformation advocates alike. The book retails for $12.95. For more information, visit

Back to Lois Ahren’s Author Page