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Ruth Morgan collaborating with the City and County of San Francisco Sheriff’s Department and fiscal sponsor Programs for People

Award: $35,000 Visual Arts grant awarded in 1997

Presented: July-September 1998

Collaborating with the Sheriff’s Department of the City and County of San Francisco and with the batterer intervention program manalive, photographer Ruth Morgan created three posters titled, “Is This What It Takes to be a Man?”—for the interiors and exteriors of 150 municipal railway buses and 30 bus shelters—promoting the idea of restorative justice. Smaller posters using the same images were displayed in neighborhood organizations. This project was part of a Resolve to Stop the Violence campaign conducted by the Sheriff’s Department.

Morgan’s images gained even greater visibility when Sheriff’s Department buses displayed them; they were mounted in the county jail lobby; they were reproduced on 40,000 postcards; and the San Francisco Giants projected them on the 3-Com Park Jumbotron on Resolve to Stop the Violence Day, September 13, 1998–reaching 35,000 spectators.

The campaign was designed to reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable for the harm they have caused, and engage community organizations in working with victims and ex-offenders in preventing further violence. Restorative justice highlights the fact that the whole community—including victims, families, and offenders—is harmed by violence.

Ruth Morgan brought to this project 25 years of experience working in jails and prisons and with at-risk youth as a photographic artist and arts administrator. Among other projects, she spent three years photographing in San Quentin State Prison; and produced the poster series “Record Breaker.”

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department has a long tradition of developing innovative social and educational programs in the city and county jails that are designed to give ex-offenders the opportunity to develop the skills and attitudes that help them become productive individuals.