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Freedom & Captivity Curriculum Project

The Freedom & Captivity Curricula Project is building curricula on abolitionist themes from the materials created by 2021’s Freedom & Captivity initiative and featured on this website. These curricula can be used to facilitate conversations with community groups, study groups inside of prisons, and in college courses in order to foster conversations inside, outside, and across the walls about abolitionist questions like: What would accountability look like in an abolitionist society? How is repair addressed in an abolitionist society? What does ‘community’ mean in a context of incarceration? What does liberation sound like and move like? What is the relationship between freedom, liberation, and abolitionism? What is the relationship between racial equity, repair, justice, and abolition? How can we model concepts of justice, repair, liberation and abolition in poetry, movement, narrative, spoken word, and stories?

The curricula themes are: Loss and Restoration; Trauma and Forgiveness; and What is Liberation? Each 13-week curriculum can be broken down into smaller segments. The curricula will be available in 2023 on Edovo and Ameelio platforms inside prisons, and as a downloadable pdf on this website. 

The Freedom & Captivity Curriculum Project Team:

Abdulkadir Ali is an Ethiopian-American social activist. From human rights to community leadership, Mr. Ali addresses issues that continuously occur in silenced communities caused by systematic oppression. He is an Artistic Director with Maine Inside Out, an organization that uses theater to engage communities around the subject of incarceration, and works as the Advocacy Director with Maine Youth Justice. An organization that brings people of all backgrounds together to address the failures of the criminal/juvenile justice system while working to advance reform. Mr. Ali also works in partnership with the Young People’s Caucus, which connects policy decision makers with young people to discuss and learn about topics that are important to youth, and Opportunity Scholars at the University of Southern Maine, which creates a bridge for formerly incarcerated young people to access post-secondary education.  As a formerly incarcerated young man, Mr. Ali works tirelessly as an activist and organizer on behalf of Maine’s most vulnerable populations. Mr. Ali lives in Portland. Ali uses philosophical poetry from life’s experiences to meaningful messages in hopes of a better world.

Catherine Besteman is an abolitionist educator at Colby College. She coordinated the Freedom & Captivity initiative and is the PI for the Freedom & Captivity Curriculum Project. She serves on Maine’s Prison Education Partnership Board and has researched and published on security, militarism, displacement, and community-based activism and transformation, focused on Somalia, South Africa, and the U.S.

Brandon Brown   

Geneviève Beaudoin has been with the Freedom & Captivity initiative since 2020, supporting efforts in communications, website management, the Freedom & Captivity archive, and the forthcoming Freedom & Captivity Curriculum Project. 

Jan Collins, Associate Director of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition and Freedom & Captivity board member, curated an exhibition of work by incarcerated artists for Freedom & Captivity and facilitates art programming inside Maine Prison facilities, including workshops to create material to be archived in the Freedom & Captivity archive at Maine Historical Society.

Jon Courtney is an event coordinator and film programmer. He organizes film and musical performance programming through the NAACP Branch at the Maine State Prison and at the Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center and facilitates men’s integrity circles through the Jericho Circle Project at Maine State Prison. He coordinates book drives and library planning for correctional facilities in Maine and stewards podcast and film content onto the Edovo tablet systems. He served as board member for Maine Inside Out and Freedom & Captivity.  

Linda Dolloff is earning her Master’s degree while serving on the Maine Prison Education Partnership board. She leads performance workshops and collaborated on Freedom & Captivity programming at the Southern Maine Women’s Reentry Center, where she is currently incarcerated. Linda is an outreach research intern for Big Picture Educational Consulting, a media literacy organization, and a certified recovery coach. She is a program facilitator for book and film groups for the Maine Humanities Council and a member of the Opportunity Scholars Network.

Andre “Dray” Hicks is a social entrepreneur, mentor and national performance artist who has performed with the Yeti and Kool G. Rap. Andre is a Deering High School alumni student athlete, lives in Portland with his family and is the longstanding Manager of Toni’s Touch, Portland’s cornerstone barbershop and salon in the Portland community. Building upon his lived experience in the justice system as a youth and adult, he works as a mentor to young people and adults with the Opportunity Scholars Initiative at the University of Southern Maine and organizes with Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition. Andre facilitates weekly groups of currently and formerly incarcerated people to build positive reentry supports and works to create opportunities for people to aspire to greatness and thrive.  He uses the tools of writing, conversation, and performance art to facilitate justice as healing and liberation and mentors’ youth in financial literacy and wellbeing.

Leo Hylton holds a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution with a focus on social justice and is a Restorative Justice practitioner. He is a journalist, public speaker, and Visiting Instructor at Colby College. He is a resident at Maine State Prison, where he collaborated on Freedom & Captivity programming.

Antonio Jackson  

Joseph Jackson is Director of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition and Director of Leadership Development for Maine Inside Out, a theater group for formerly incarcerated youth. During his 20-year period of incarceration he founded the Maine State Prison chapter of the NAACP, completed two BA degrees and was accepted into an MFA program, which he completed post-release. He serves as a board member of the Prison Education Partnership and was on Freedom & Captivity’s advisory board.

Erica King, MSW, is Director of the Place Matters program at University of Southern Maine, coordinator of the Opportunity Scholars Network, and member of the Prison Education Partnership. She teaches inside Maine’s prisons, provides trainings to Department of Corrections staff on equity and de-escalation techniques, and overseas the creation of regional care teams for assisting formerly incarcerated people who are reentering society.  

Ana Noriega

Bobby Payzant

Brian Pitman is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Maine who specializes in studying racist disparities in the criminal legal system. He works with the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine and with the Penobscot County Jail Storytelling Project and is a Freedom & Captivity board member.   

Wendy Allen recently completed a prison sentence in Maine and works as a recovery coach with Maine Recovery Advocacy Coalition, a community facilitator with Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, and is a program facilitator for the Maine Humanities Council.  She is completing her degree with Washington County Community College. She facilitates book discussion groups through the Maine Humanities Council and collaborated on Freedom & Captivity public programming while incarcerated.

This project is supported by an American Council of Learned Societies Sustaining Public Engagement Grant, a Maine Humanities Council SHARP grant, the Mellon Foundation, Opportunity Scholars of University of Southern Maine’s Cutler Institute, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition and Colby College.