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Lea Stern

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Lea Stern

That's the worst when you get out of prison and you have nowhere to go. That is the absolute worst. Because you've been in prison for how long? So you lost everything. You have no clothes; you have nothing… You’re starting to try and start life over, and you have to live exactly how they want you to live.

They technically will not release you from prison if you don't have somewhere to go. So, you have to have somewhere to go to and they try to put you in these programs and then you get there and you find out, oh, well, it's not like the best program – or someone in the program is a creep… and they're making sexual advances at you and you're stuck at these places and you can't leave because you're there by probation… and then you're in a bigger mess than you ever imagined.


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Artist Statement

When I listened to Lea’s interview, what resonated with me was her sense of personal responsibility – especially in the account of her re-entry into society. Upon release, she was hosted at a mission and didn’t necessarily agree with the church’s advice. In her words, “You can't pray about my problems. I have to fix my problems. I have to be able to live and work and fix my problems… And I did, and I stayed clean, and I did everything I needed to do, and I got my kid back… I got myself a house, and I did everything I needed to do.” She took full responsibility for her own actions.

What keeps people out of jail and prison is money, a good lawyer, a network, and maybe having some luck with the right judge who happened to eat lunch that day. When you get up to the stand, they make the decision. Prayer doesn't have to do with it. No disrespect to anybody who's religious, but like Lea said, she had to get up and work. She had to get her feet moving. A prayer wasn’t what got her a new spot or a job. It was simply her hard work.

- Devin Reynolds

Untitled, 2018