The Current Scarlet Letter
In reference to The Scarlet Letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Demetrius Semien and Julie Dobbs have exposed the current Scarlet Letter in the United States.
The original Scarlet Letter was such a taboo subject during its time period just as prison re-entry is a taboo subject now. Being a convicted felon is the current Scarlet Letter. Instead of an A for an adulterer, it’s an F for a felon.
"The criminal aspect follows you more deeply when you're out of prison, worse than when you're in prison. Right now, I am struggling to get a job because they are holding my conviction against me; something that is 28 years old."
- Chris 'Champ' Napier
How Does This Relate?
The themes Hawthorne explores in The Scarlet Letter are almost identical to the themes we see in modern day prison re-entry; Judgment from society along with self-judgment, the guilt of the convicted, isolation from society after being contained for years, public shaming from society, and loss of free even after serving their time. Whether that be voting rights, financial aid, getting a job or a loan, etc, All of this, if not completely, is partially hindered because of one conviction.
People have become aware of this phenomenon through books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and the current understanding that the mark of the criminal record, as documented by Devah Pager, Bruce Western, and Jeremy Travis, affects employment, voting rights, and other key rights enjoyed by most citizens.
The Scarlet Letter F directly affects 1 in 99 people in the United States.
The United States has 2.3
million people locked up in their
prison systems. (Not including
those in jail or on probation)
The United States has 5% of the world's population, yet we have 25% of the world's incarcerated population.
97% of all convicted felons
never even went to trial
to try their case in front
of a judge. They settled for
69 billion dollars of the
United States tax dollars
are spent on housing and
feeding prison inmates
JOIN OUR MOVEMENT!
Our goal with The Scarlet Letter F Project is to start a national movement to advocate for those who have been convicted and are transitioning back in to civil society. Will you join us in wearing a Scarlet Letter F to stand in solidarity with those who are continually shamed long after they have done their time; those who cannot get a job because of their conviction, those who have lost all their family members, those who feel as if they no longer serve a purpose here on this Earth? By wearing the Scarlet Letter F, are you willing to understand their self-judgment, their guilt, their isolation, their shame, and their not-so-free free will?