Formerly Incarcerated Artists Jesse Krimes and Russell Craig Partner with the Soze Agency to Launch Second Round of Arts Fellowship Supporting Artists Who Have Served Time in America’s Penal System

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Right of Return Co-Chairs Jesse Krimes and Russell Craig and The Soze Agency are proud to announce the second year of the Right of Return USA Fellowship, an expansion of the first ever arts fellowship dedicated to supporting artists who have served time in the penal system. The Right of Return USA Fellowship generously funded by the Open Philanthropy Project, will award a diverse group of six artists with a grant of $20,000 each to support a project aimed at reforming our criminal justice system. 

“We believe that art has the potential to create change, and that individuals who are directly impacted by our criminal justice system are best positioned to lead conversations and find solutions to the problem of over-incarceration,” said Co-Chairs Krimes and Craig. Artists as culture-makers have always had a critical role to play in transforming our society into one that is more just, and the push to end mass incarceration is no exception. Artists have always been at the forefront of social movements distilling complex issues and helping us make sense of the world around us. In a world saturated with new challenges every day, artists also function as organizers by connecting people and refocusing our attention into action as we collectively reimagine the world we want to live in. 

“We are deeply committed to bringing tangible reform to the criminal justice system through creative solutions,” said The Soze Agency in a statement, “Directly impacted-artists are often on the forefront of change and are uniquely positioned to provide insights through their own experiences. We are humbled to be able to expand this opportunity beyond the resounding success of the first year of this project.” 

The Right of Return fellowship provides resources to formerly incarcerated artists of all artistic disciplines, who address solutions to repairing our broken criminal justice system. The fellowship aims to uplift the voices of people directly impacted by mass incarceration, reflect the humanity of people touched by the criminal justice system, and build the public will for further reforms. Having been incarcerated, each artist has the first-hand experience of the failures and areas in need reform within the criminal justice system and society. Throughout the fellowship, each artist will also be invited to attend two retreats that will foster community building and include master classes on campaign strategies, criminal justice policy, and the history of political art.

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