The Inner Voices, founded in 1971, is a Washington, DC based chartered non-profit organization, strictly focused on providing re-entry, support and transitional services, advocacy and opportunity to the formerly incarcerated in the Washington Metropolitan Area as well as areas across the continental United States. Using theatrical arts as the chief catalyst, we aim to fulfill the Samaritan cause of giving aid where aid is needed.
While serving a life sentence, our Director, Roach Brown created and founded the nationally acclaimed prison theatrical troupe The Inner Voices. The Inner Voices performed outside the gates of Lorton Correctional Complex over 1,500 times without an escape or incident. The Inner Voices performed original plays, skits and social dramas. In several incarnations,The Inner Voices perform to this very day...
The Inner Voices was founded in 1971 behind the walls of Lorton Correctional Institution. The Inner Voices advocate for the rights of ex-offenders and provides transitional services to underrepresented populations of our community. Moving into our fourth decade of community service, our work has expanded into legislative advocacy and education, voter awareness and domestic violence prevention.
Through theatrical venues, we inform and educate the public through periodicals, internet, curriculum learning, media productions, workshops, social networking avenues, group support meetings. Our work is supportive of all races, genders, disabilities and nationalities throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area and our other target cities across the country. The growing Latino population is an area that we seek to break barriers in the very near future. The promotion of “diversity training” and “anti-racism training” are also high on our agenda.
We can testify that there is a heavy population of formerly incarcerated individuals living among us. After concerted one-on-one conversations, we have discovered that there is a similar story: that doors are closed to those who have served time for a crime and have returned to society. The Inner Voices want to open those doors.
Our aggressive legislative organizing and support includes:
- Increased Voter Awareness and Registration for Returning Citizens
- Support of the "Ban the Box" Campaign
- Repeal of Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentences
- Reform and Implementation of 1-to-1 Federal Crack-to-Powder Sentencing
- Apt Execution and Increased Funding of Re-Entry Grants for Ex-Offenders
- Fair Hiring Standards for Re-Entering Ex-Offenders
The bulk of our work revolves around the reality of incarceration. What we know is The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. The U.S. incarceration rate on December 31, 2008 was 754 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents, or 0.75%. The USA also has the highest total documented prison and jail population in the world. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS): "In 2008, over 7.3 million people were on probation, in jail or prison, or on parole at year-end — 3.2% of all U.S. adult residents or 1 in every 31 adults."
2,304,115 were incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails in 2008. In addition, according to a December 2009 BJS report, there were 92,854 held in juvenile facilities as of the 2006 Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement (CJRP), conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Though the numbers are slowing, incarceration rates increase and The Inner Voices want to be a support system for those who are re-entering society.
Our work isn't just outside the walls of jails and prisons, but we reach our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated. We write, visit (where permitted) and advocate for those incarcerated. We seek to bring attention to jail and prison violence and the rise of the mortality rate. Jail inmate death rates are compared with rates in the general U.S. resident population using a direct standardization. Estimates and mortality rates for the top 50 jail jurisdictions in the United States look like this:
- From 2000 through 2007, local jail administrators reported 8,097 inmate deaths in custody. Deaths in jails increased each year, from 904 in 2000 to 1,102 in 2007.
- The mortality rate per 100,000 local jail inmates declined from 151 deaths per 100,000 inmates to 141 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2007, while the jail inmate population increased 31% from 597,226 to 782,595.
- Between 2000 and 2007, the suicide rates were higher in small jails than large jails. In jails holding 50 or fewer inmates, the suicide rate was 167 per 100,000; in the largest jails, the suicide rate was 27 per 100,000 inmates.
When all is said and done, The Inner Voices want and need your help to bring justice and empowerment to our community!