The Hospital ≠ Prison Project
- Alissa Jordan with Carmelle Moise (MamaBaby Haiti) and Jean-Denis Aureleus (ADDEF)
- Center for Expermental Ethnography, School of Arts & Sciences
The Hospital ≠ Prison Project is a reproductive-justice-based storytelling project on hospital detention (aka “hospital-prison”). Widely illegal though rarely challenged, hospital detention occurs when hospitals extend lifesaving care to desperate patients as a form of credit. Then, acting both as bodily caregivers and bodily creditors, these hospitals imprison patients within storage rooms, patios, and locked hallways until family members come to settle their medical debts. For those without families, or those simply unable to pay, clinical imprisonment can last years and longer. Called global public health’s “open secret” (Cowgill & Ntatumbe 2019) the practice is widespread across hospitals in well over 42 countries of the world. It is used most often to imprison black, indigenous, and birthing people of color (and their babies) after cesarean sections and neonatal care, and the practice is intertwined with myriad other injustices and activist struggles called to attention by Reproductive Justice frameworks.
Reproductive Justice (RJ) frameworks were created in 1994 by a group of Black women activists, including prominent RJ scholar Loretta Ross, to call attention to the racial and gendered disparities in reproductive rights, especially in the way these rights are conceptualized and applied. Working with a group of activist mothers and survivors of hospital prison, our project is facilitating a collaborative graphic and oral storytelling project in Okap, Haiti. Alissa Jordan, the Asosyasyon de Dwa Enfant ak Fanm (Port Au Prince, Haiti) and MamaBaby Ayiti (Cap Ayisyen, Haiti) will facilitate a 5-day RJ and trauma-informed storytelling project, where participants will work with one another to articulate shared elements of their experiences and their visions of justice, supported by a social-justice informed Haitian sketch artist and a graphic animator. Selected narratives developed out of the collaborative storytelling process will be made into three short hybrid-animation videos (3-5 minutes) that will be publicly disseminated in Haitian Creole via social media channels, distributed to key policymakers in global health, and shared in Philadelphia at the free, public conference gathering of the “Black Reproductive Working Group” in 2023.