Joseph Jackson is the founder and director of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition and an accomplished poet. Contributed photo

LEWISTON — University of Southern Maine Lewiston/Auburn’s first Food For Thought speaker for the 2021-22 year is scheduled to be Joseph Jackson, founder and director of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition and an accomplished poet.

This program is free and open to the public. It will be presented on Zoom at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6.

Jackson was incarcerated as a young man. He could have turned his anger toward others, but instead chose to work toward his associate and bachelor’s degrees and graduated with summa cum laude honors from the University of Maine in Augusta while still serving his sentence. He was selected as a member of Who’s Who among students in colleges and universities in 2012, and was the first prisoner in Maine to be selected to the USM’s Stonecoast MFA in the creative writing graduate program.

As a result he was chosen to represent the University of Maine in Augusta’s “50 Years 50 Portraits” in 2015. He earned his master’s degree from USM in 2015, and was one of four commencement speakers for his class.

Jackson has experienced many successes during his decade-plus work as a prison advocate — revoking, revising, or defeating proposed Maine Department of Corrections policies and practices. In addition to his role with MPAC, he is the advocacy director with Maine Inside Out. Its mission is to build community, develop youth leadership, and initiate dialogue through the use of collaborative original theater and working across boundaries, both inside and outside of Long Creek Youth Development Center.

Simultaneously, his work with the Reentry Center in Belfast with incarcerated citizens led to the cofounding of Restorative Art Works in Belfast. RAW creates original theater as therapy to address the post-traumatic stress of incarceration.

Jackson begs people to ask the question: what is the real goal of punishment?

To sign up for the link, email [email protected] by noon Tuesday, Oct. 5.

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