James Burns is opting to go back to prison to make an important point
For The Solitary Confinement Project Burns has opted to put himself back behind bars, this time for 30 days, and live-stream the entire experience—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Along with support from VICE and the La Paz County Sheriff’s department in Arizona, he has rigged his tiny cell and anywhere else he might go with cameras that aim to catch everything he does during his stay—which began on December 12, 2016.
Burns’s stay will be monitored at all times by a team at VICE and he, unlike the 80,000 actual prisoners currently estimated to be in solitary confinement, does have the option to leave any time if concerns for his mental or physical well-being arise. He also decided to bring writing materials into his cell, but they are the only thing he has to occupy his time.
The Big Question
Burns said in his explanation of the project for VICE that he knew he might face criticism for the project and, in fact, he welcomes it. His main goal was to start a conversation and, ideally to disrupt (and eventually put an end to) this particular part of the criminal justice system.
The Solitary Confinement Project is an extremely effective example of the powerful intersection of peaceful protest, activism, and performance art. It will make you think deeply about our complacency and complicity in the mistreatment of a huge chunk of the population. Watching even a short piece of it begs the question (as Burns put it): “Can we continue to do this [to people] and be fine with it?”
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