Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Art and Poetry by Joseph Dole

Mixed Media  10/2017
water color, pen and marker
Mixed Media 9/2017
water color and pencil

American Supermax
By Joseph Dole 
(Written while confined in Tamms Supermax)

A guard informed me upon arrival
     that there are benefits to this isolation.
He promoted the fact that we are
     now all safe from gang retaliation.
I had to ask: “But what of the
     retaliation of the prison administration?”
He smiled cryptically as he
     enjoyed this in ecstatic contemplation.

None of what I was experiencing
     was making me feel safe.  But then, by “grace”,
I saw a new definition.  I was
     “safe” from my family´s loving embrace.
I was “safe” from having education
     taking ignorance´s place.
I was “safe” from recreation
     keeping my heart´s healthy pace.

How I wish I could articulate this
     quasi existence that I have grown to hate.
Or get an answer to why so many
     strangers sadistically enjoy my monotonous fate.

They say societal enlightenment takes time,
     but what if it takes longer than your life
        and you are forced to wait?

Joseph Dole K84446
Stateville Correctional Center
P.O. Box 112
Joliet, IL 60434
Joseph Dole is 40 years old.  Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he moved to Illinois when he was 8 years old.  He has been continuously incarcerated since the age of 22, and spent nearly a decade of his life entombed at the notorious Tamms Supermax Prison in complete isolation (Tamms was shuttered in 2013 after an intense campaign by human rights groups, and the families and friends of prisoners who were confined and tortured there).

Mr. Dole is currently serving a life-without-parole sentence after being wrongly convicted of a gang-related, double murder.  He continues to fight that conviction pro se, and has recently uncovered evidence suppressed by the State, which proves that the State´s star witness committed perjury on the stand.

His first book A Costly American Hatred (available as both a paperback and e-book) is an in-depth look at how America´s hatred of “criminals” has led the nation down an expensive path that not only ostracizes and demonizes an overgrowing segment of the population, but is also now so pervasive that it is counterproductive to the goals of reducing crime and keeping society safe;  wastes enormous resources; and destroys human lives.  Anyone who is convicted of a crime is no longer considered human in the eyes of the rest of society.  This allows them to be ostracized, abused, commoditized and disenfranchised.

Mr. Dole´s second book, Control Units and Supermaxes: A National Security Threat, details how long-term isolation units not only pose grave threats to inmates, but also guards who work there and society as a whole.

 He has also been published in Prison Legal News, The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, The Mississippi Review, Stateville Speaks Newsletter, The Public I Newspaper, Scapegoat and numerous other places on-line such as and among others.  His writings have also been featured in the following books: Too Cruel Not Unusual Enough (ed. By Kenneth E. Hartman, 2013); Lockdown Prison Heart (iUniverse, 2004); Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People´s Gude to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time (James Kilgore, 2015); Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement (The New Press, 2016).

Mr. Dole´s artwork has been displayed in exhibits in Berkeley, CA, Chicago, and New York.  He has also won four PEN Writing Awards for Prisoners, among others.

He is both a jailhouse journalist and jailhouse lawyer, as well as an activist and watchdog ensuring Illinois public bodies are in compliance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

You can see more of his work on his Facebook Page

He will respond to all letters.

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