Lois Ahrens has been an activist and organizer for social justice for more than forty years.
2000 she started the Real Cost of Prisons Project which brings together
justice activists, artists, justice policy researchers and people
directly experiencing the impact of mass incarceration to work together
to end the U.S. prison nation.
The Real Cost of Prisons Project created workshops, a website which includes sections of writing and comix by prisoners, a daily news blog focused on mass incarceration and three comic books. The website (at www.realcostofprisons.org) and blog (at www.realcostofprisons.org/blog/) receive more than 30,000 distinct visits per month.
In 2005, she developed three comic books: Prison Town-Paying the Price by Kevin Pyle and Craig Gilmore, Prisoners of A Hard Life-Women and Their Children by Susan Willmarth, Ellen Miller-Mack and Ahrens, Prisoners of the War on Drugs by Sabrina Jones, Ellen Miller-Mack and Ahrens. More than 100,000 free comic books have been sent to prisoners, their families, organizers, teachers and others. The comic books have now being anthologized into the book, The Real Cost of Prisons Comix, published by PM Press in September, 2008.
Through the Real Cost of Prisons Project, Ahrens has been fortunate to have built an extensive correspondence with prisoners, which has grown into working relationships and friendships. Additionally, Lois is involved in educating people with criminal records, those who hire them and the public about how to overcome and end obstacles created by laws and practices surrounding Criminal Offender Record Information. She also works to raise awareness and opposition to the building and expanding of new jails in MA.
A recent letter addessed to Lois:
The Real Cost of Prisons Comix
Editor: Lois Ahrens • Written by Ellen Miller-Mack, Craig Gilmore, Lois Ahrens, Susan Willmarth, and Kevin Pyle • Illustrated by Kevin Pyle, Sabrina Jones and Susan Willmarth • Introduction by Craig Gilmore and Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Publisher: PM Press
Format: Paperback, mobi, ePub, PDF
Page count: 104
Size: 7 x 10
Subjects: Comics, Social Justice, Penology
Winner of the 2008 PASS Award (Prevention for a Safer Society) from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
“I cannot think of a better way to arouse the public to the cruelties of the prison system than to make this book widely available.”
“The Real Cost of Prisons comics are among the most transformative pieces of information that the youth get to read. We take it with us to detention centers, group homes, youth shelters and social justice organizing projects. Everywhere we go we see youth nodding with agreement and getting excited to see their reality validated in print. The Real Cost of Prisons helps youth know what’s up and gives them the push they need to get active in the struggle to make interpersonal and community-wide change.”
–Shira Hassan, Co-Director Young Women’s Empowerment Project, Chicago, IL
- Resistance Behind Bars in MRR
- NACDL Reviews Real Cost of Prisons
- Real Cost of Prison Comix on Culture
- Real Cost of Prisons Comix in the Prison Legal News
- The Real Cost of Prisons Comix on Book Bag
- Comic book series provides a fresh look at prison myths
- The Person is Polemic: The Real Cost of Prisons Comix: A Review
- The Prison Industrial Complex and Political Prisoners
- Illustrations From the Inside and The Real Cost of Prisons
- Our Bodies Ourselves reviews The Real Cost of Prisons Comix
- Real Cost of Prisons in Changing Lives, Changing Minds
- Comics for community organizing, outreach and education
- Real Cost of Prisons in the Monthly Review
- The Real Cost of Prisons Comix Reviewed on Rethinking Schools
- The Real Cost of Prisons Comix in Feminist Review
- Real Cost of Prisons in Colorlines Magazine
- Prison Comix Reviewed on Unsilent Generation
- Real Cost of Prisons Reviewed in Make/Shift Magazine
- Four Things You Can Do for Juvenile Justice Reform
- The Real Cost of Prisons Comix Reviewed in Radical Teacher
- The Real Cost of Prisons Comix Reviewed on Bitch Magazine
- Resistance Behind Bars on the Real Cost of Prisons Blog