Grantee Cohort Spring 2020, Spring 2021
“There are jails that are run by government agencies where almost every single service in that jail has been outsourced or privatized. Telephone services, video calling services, tablets, money transfers, laundry services… The government is not separate from that, they’re a collaborator and conspirator with these private companies and also profit not just the corporations themselves.” – Bianca Tylek; April 2020 (The Appeal)
In 2020, Art for Justice supported Bianca Tylek’s leadership of Worth Rises as she deepened partnerships that focused on exposing the venture capitalism driving the expansion of the prison industry. Worth Rises’ publication of the report The Prison Industry: How It Started, How It Works, How It Harms in December 2020 was groundbreaking, as the report delves into the history, business and impact of the prison industry, underscored by firsthand accounts of people with lived experience.
Worth Rises leveraged the report to launch a semester-long intensive course about the prison industry. The organization is prioritizing engagement and collaboration with people directly impacted by the prison system, offering paid learning opportunities to help develop skills that support their leadership to dismantle the industry and reinvest its resources in their communities.
Through its latest partnership with Art for Justice, Worth Rises will continue building education and awareness about the prison industry via the curriculum. Through education about the prison industry, the organization will increase efforts that drive divestment by providing tools and resources as accessible, attractive alternatives for individuals and corporations to consider.
Building on momentum from the organization’s prison phone justice campaign, which resulted in passage of legislation that made New York City the only jurisdiction in the country to provide free calls from city jails, Worth Rises will look to have this law implemented statewide.
Before receiving a J.D. from Harvard Law School, Bianca Tylek spent years working as a financial analyst at Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. After law school, she founded Worth Rises, the only organization in the country dedicated to dismantling the prison industry through public education, advocacy, and organizing. Using her personal experience with the system as child and unique combination of skills, Bianca exposes and challenges private and public actors who capitalize on people enmeshed in the criminal legal system. Bianca is also a visual artists whose art often speaks to the mission of Worth Rises and other social justice causes.
Bianca represents one of the most promising voices to emerge in the criminal legal system reform movement in recent years. Art for Justice is investing in Bianca as invaluable resource and activist addressing the myriad of ways that corporate and government financial interests conspire to sustain our crisis of mass incarceration.
Worth Rises, in partnership with Color Of Change and people directly impacted by the carceral system, will launch a digital action hub to focus collective energy on dismantling the prison industrial complex through an Art for Justice Activating Art and Advocacy grant. The first of its kind hub builds on Worth Rises’ forthcoming groundbreaking report that maps and details how the 12 sectors of the prison industry extract wealth from people, families and communities. Worth Rises will release the report in September, and the hub in November. By further developing the wealth of information available on the deep injustice of the carceral system, this creative campaign will further the movement to dismantle the prison industry and the money that perpetuates its continued existence.