Interviews with Formerly Incarcerated People

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Interview with Doug Smith

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Doug Smith is a criminal justice policy analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and an Assistant Adjunct Professor at UT Austin’s School of Social Work. Smith was incarcerated for six years, an experience which led him to his current work developing policies to reform the criminal justice system. In this interview, Smith shares how his struggle with addiction resulted in his incarceration. He describes day to day life in prison, and how prisons deal with the mental and physical health of those incarcerated. He also recounts the day a friend of his died in prison, and talks about what it was living in the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas, where executions are carried out by the State of Texas. This interview took place on May 13, 2017 at the Texas After Violence Project Office in Austin, Texas.

Interview with Jennifer Pumphrey

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Jennifer Pumphrey is a formerly incarcerated advocate and a member of Texas Advocates for Justice. Ms. Pumphrey was first incarcerated at the age of eighteen after taking a drug charge for her boyfriend. With the help of the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program, Ms. Pumphrey has been in recovery since her incarceration. Ms. Pumphrey was interviewed by Lauren Johnson on March 29, 2018, at Ms. Pumphrey’s home in Austin, Travis County, Texas.

Interview with Lauren Johnson

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Lauren Johnson is an advocate for incarcerated people who was formerly incarcerated by the state of Texas. In her interview, Johnson discusses the poverty of her childhood, and how drugs and abuse impacted her adolescence. Johnson gave birth while incarcerated, and describes her experience of pregnancy and childbirth while in prison custody. Finally, Johnson reflects on her advocacy work and discusses her vision of a just society. This interview took place in the Texas After Violence Project office in Austin, Texas, on June 9, 2017.

Interview with Mr. Jorge Antonio Renaud

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Mr. Renaud is an activist, poet, and the author of Behind the Walls: A Guide for Families and Friends of Texas Prison Inmates," based on his time spent in prison. In part one of his interview he discusses the life experiences that led him to prison, his time in prison, and the unique culture that develops within prisons. He also explains how he gained experience writing in prison and getting an education while incarcerated. In part 2, he continues his story, highlighting particularly the effects of Ruiz v. Estelle, a landmark Supreme Court case on prison conditions, in 1980. In part 3, he reads some of his poetry and discusses his writing career.