Prison Blues is an American workwear brand selling starchy blue jeans and rigid trucker jackets for around $50. Its a niche labelIf Levis is the giant of the jean world, Prison Blues is more like an ant scurrying underfoot. But the brands affordable clothes have lately caught the attention of young, fashion-conscious folks in Japan. A flip through Prison Blues tagged photos on Instagram reveals a plethora of Japanese fans wearing its midnight-blue jeans and chunky denim jackets with leopard-print coats, technicolor Coogi sweaters and vintage neckties.
Nobody first thinks of prison as a land of opportunity. For most of the men and women who are sentenced to time in Oregon prisons each year, prison is, at best, a course correction. For some its a forced detour around a road that was falling apart. For others, a prison cell is a timeout from the life they look forward to jumping right back into.
Michael grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, running away from an abusive home at 12 years old. He went to live with his grandparents. His grandfather would take him to work with him over summer breaks and teach him about life. Life was good, then it wasn't. Michael's grandfather passed away when he was seventeen, leaving a void. He coped the only way he knew how, hiding behind a bottle and then drugs. The need to get high led to poor choices landing him in an Arizona prison at 20. He paroled to his mothers house here in Oregon. He was doing well for a while and then eventually started drinking again. This led to drugs, and Michael started getting in trouble. He tried several times to get sober but failed. Then he found himself running around with the worst group of people, and ended up in prison for the second time, paroling in 2012.
The Hear My Voice video series is OCE's response to the desire of the men and women in our programs to have a platform to speak to the community. These videos were made to allow them to express their thoughts by speaking from the heart. This series offers a chance for those wishing to personalize themselves, to let the public see they are people who prefer to speak for themselves. They are aware of the societal climate pushing for changes and they are not in complete agreement. Sometimes a letter is not enough; it is easier to have a conversation, but if they did write one it will be included with the video.
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