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Incarcerated artist Marina Bueno sews her mouth closed to express her frustration with the prison system.
Illustration by Marina Bueno

I have spent so much time trying to be a “good inmate,” doing all of the right things, following all the rules and working hard at my job. It’s gotten me nowhere. I’m just a number.

Lately I’ve begun taking classes and my eyes have been opened. I’m learning so much about the laws that bind us and the machine that needs people like me to stay in prison so that it can make its millions.

In this self-portrait, I’m ripping out my stitches to signify that I’m no longer the beaten dog at their feet. In the background is the privacy screen required by our institution in order to take photos or have video visits. Originally, I wrote “JPay,” the financial services corporation that serves the U.S. prison system. But I changed it to reflect the idea that it is all of us who pay in this failing system.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Global Forum Online has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Marina Bueno is a writer and artist incarcerated in Florida.