Prisoners are people too, you know. Actually, I didn’t. Well, popular culture surely has a way of putting them in jail and we never see them again. In television shows, the character that they want to get rid of (because a) the actor quit; b) the character had served its momentary purpose) either gets killed off, or, sent to jail. Because, evidently, nobody ever comes back.
It’s strange that people associate prison with life sentences. The truth is, life sentences are the exception, not even close to the norm. And people go to prison for relatively minor criminal acts, or at least, socially acceptable ones, such as having a little too much to drink , or lying to social security.
And yet, the result of a prison sentence is a stigma that one can never lose. A criminal conviction automatically removes you from the running for most skilled work, in this country at least. More and more countries are focussing on more rehabilitative forms of justice, with prisoner support groups, employment assistance, and in certain cases, providing alternatives to incarceration.
The use of Drug Courts in the United States and Australia is a potent example: where drug offenders are given the opportunity to attend rehab and be re-integrated into society, without the punitive measures of a gaol sentence.
The art direction in this is impeccable; it draws attention to the issue without succumbing to the cliché of an unhealthy, grimy prisoner. It has an air of sadness, but so much possibility. The finer details are painful: the scrawled offensive language on the walls, the drips of blood from tattoos that bind. The drawn-on noose is the final straw.
I never thought that I would be supporting a sponsorship service for ex-convicts. But after all, without them, Australia wouldn’t be the home it is today. And who are we to say that everyone doesn’t deserve a second chance?
Advertising Agency: TBWA\MAP, Boulogne Billancourt, France