With black shoulder-length hair down and an immaculate pin-stripe suit, I strode into the cavernous waiting room of a maximum-security prison. It was in the remote desert area of Ely, Nevada and I was meeting a new client. The “cop-killer.” Edward. A 6’ 2” comely, Death Row inmate, he stood anxiously at attention beside one of the front cafeteria tables, anticipating my arrival. After I pulled away from this stranger’s needy hug, I noticed his inscrutable blue eyes beaming through a flat affect. There he was. My innocent charge. The man I would represent for over twenty years.
Edward and three others faced the death penalty for the murder of a policeman. On the advise of counsel and without a plea agreement, Edward pleaded guilty to capital murder. Then, at his only hearing, his lawyer proceeded to tell the court that Edward was “a Judas Goat…who lured the victim, James Hoff to the scene of his death…[T]hese other boys were influenced and coerced and under the dominion and control of my client, [Edward]…” who “was yelling for his friends to stab Jim Hoff.”
An artist who spent twenty-five years working as a defense lawyer, I am concerned primarily with issues of criminal justice. My work explores the relationship that society has with those of us who have committed crimes and to the process of criminalization that society imposes on the least fortunate among us, the formerly incarcerated. My current series, P2P, Prisoners to Paper dolls, coalesces society's pejorative perceptions of ex-convicts released in their communities with the art form of paper dolls.