U.S.: Timely New Memoir Addresses Drug War, Mass Incarceration, Reentry Issues
Anthony Papa’s Timely New Memoir Addresses the Drug War, Mass Incarceration and Reentry Issues as President Obama and Congress Seek Criminal Justice Reform
Book Release Event Coincides with Celebration of Papa’s 10-Year Anniversary at the Drug Policy Alliance
This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency, a riveting, compelling tale about the life of activist, writer and artist Anthony Papa, will be released on Wednesday, May 25. Papa tells firsthand of his experience of returning home after serving 12 years of a 15-to-life sentence for a non-violent drug law violation, sentenced under the mandatory provisions of the Rockefeller Drug Laws of New York state.
While behind bars, Papa found his passion for art and his haunting self-portrait “15 to Life” ended up showing in the Whitney Museum. Papa used his art and personal story to generate a wave of media attention and in 1997 he was granted executive clemency by New York Governor George Pataki. Papa literally painted his way to freedom.
Papa says that the freedom he fought so hard to get smacked him swiftly in the face, overpowering him. He struggled with his own freedom while fighting to free those he left behind. Papa goes through heart-wrenching trials and tribulations as he seeks to rebuild his life and continue his fight to end the War On Drugs.
Along the way he meets an array of individuals from famous movie stars to politicians and the very rich, enlisting their help in doing away with mass incarceration and draconian sentencing laws that have destroyed America's criminal justice system.
Papa’s book launch event will coincide with a celebration for his 10-year anniversary at the Drug Policy Alliance, where he is manager of media and artist relations. His stinging editorials about the drug war have appeared in news sources across the country and world. He is a frequent public speaker and college lecturer on his art and criminal justice issues.
In addition to his new memoir, Papa is also author of 15 To Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom (2004) a memoir about his experience of being sentenced to state prison for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense under New York's draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. He has been interviewed by a wide range of national print and broadcast media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, National Public Radio, Democracy Now, and Court TV, among others.
He has appeared on nationally syndicated talk shows such as MSNBC's "Melissa Harris Perry", CNN's "Your Money," Charles Grodin, Geraldo Rivera, and "Catherine Crier Live." Papa's art has been exhibited widely, from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to many smaller cultural centers around the country.
Papa has worked to end the War On Drugs through many mediums, including as an artist, writer, co-founder of Mothers of the New York Disappeared and his 10 years at the Drug Policy Alliance.
"Anthony Papa's work, beginning with his incredible paintings, continuing with his ground-breaking memoir, 15 to Life, and now this new offering, This Side of Freedom, is almost single-handedly documenting one of the greatest civil and human rights disruptions in our nation's history: the human destruction caused by the war on drugs policies," said asha bandele, author of The Prisoner's Wife. "Papa brings us, in living color and painful authenticity, what these gross violations of human rights do to the spirit, but more, how the spirit can still soar despite mountains of adversity. His is truly on a hero's journey and one we should all take with him."
What: Book Release Event for “This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency”
Where: The Drug Policy Alliance, 131 W. 33rd Street, NYC Office, 15th Floor
When: May 25, 2016 5-8 pm
This Side of Freedom: Life After Clemency
by Anthony Papa
ISBN-978-1530731640 6 x 9 236 pages
Paperback Pub Date: April 8, 2016