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Student whose father experienced incarceration earns first-ever Center for Correctional Solutions Scholarship

Formerly incarcerated artist designs trophy for center’s new Solutions Award presented to his former warden; annual art show May 17

People observing paintings in a museum.

Two visitors view artworks by people experiencing incarceration at the 2023 {INK}arcerated Prison Art Show on ASU's Tempe campus. The annual show returns May 17 to Gallery 100 at Mirabella at ASU. Photo by Mark J. Scarp/ASU

May 10, 2024

A tradition since 2017, with a few years’ hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the {INK}arcerated Prison Art Show has raised more than $23,000 for Arizona State University’s Center for Correctional Solutions (CCS).

{INK}arcerated Prison Art Show

5 to 10 p.m., Friday, May 17

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts’ Gallery 100

65 E. University Dr., Tempe

Admission: Free

Proceeds from the show contributed to the first-ever CCS Scholarship, which supports an ASU student affected by incarceration. Student Isys Morrow, who had a loved one inside a correctional facility, received the first scholarship at a May 3 School of Criminology and Criminal Justice (SCCJ) ceremony, said CCS director and criminology and criminal justice Associate Professor Kevin Wright.

In addition, an artist whose works have previously been shown at the prison art show designed a trophy for an award CCS will present for the first time to a former Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry warden and SCCJ faculty associate, Greg Fizer, this month.

Wright and {INK}arcerated’s co-lead, criminal justice doctoral student Alexis Klemm, said this year’s show May 17 in Tempe will include works from five “alumni” artists who have completed their sentences.

Klemm said the artists have contributed to the show while incarcerated for multiple years, but this will be the first time most of them have been able to attend. All five are expected to be there, she said.

Warden is award’s first recipient

Two men smile as one holds an award.
Bruce Ward (right), formerly incarcerated in a facility where Greg Fizer (left) was once a warden, designed the Solutions Award trophy awarded to Fizer at a School of Criminology and Criminal Justice ceremony May 3. Photo by Maria Ward

After his release, one of the five alumni, artist Bruce Ward, earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from ASU. He is now preparing to begin graduate study toward a Master of Fine Arts this fall at the University of Hawaii.

Ward, who once experienced incarceration in an Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry facility, designed the trophy for the CCS’ first-ever Solutions Award, which also was presented at the May 3 ceremony.

“We asked Bruce to incorporate the letters C, C and S (the center’s acronym) into a unique-to-Arizona design, and he created this saguaro-inspired award, with two Cs within an S,” Wright said.

During Ward’s sentence, Fizer, the award recipient, was a warden at Ward’s facility. Ward was on hand when Fizer accepted the trophy.

Fizer, an ASU criminology and criminal justice faculty associate, works now with The GEO Group. Wright said Fizer championed programs throughout his career such as the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program that Ward completed at his facility.

Student recalls hardships while father was away

Morrow, the scholarship’s first recipient, was in kindergarten when theirIsys Morrow uses they/them pronouns. father began his incarceration, and was in the fourth grade when he was released. The junior English major, with a minor in political science, wrote in their application how at first they lived with a grandmother while their mother worked. Later, Morrow moved with their mother to a city that was three hours away.

“It was incredibly lonely and hard for me, especially since I would see parents come in all the time and have lunch with their kids, or they would volunteer for field trips,” wrote Morrow, who is from Minneapolis. “My mom worked constantly to provide for me, which is why she couldn’t participate in my school activities.”

Woman onstage holds a paper looking down at a man who is looking at her.
Criminology and criminal justice Associate Professor Kevin Wright (right) congratulates student Isys Morrow as Morrow receives the first Center for Correctional Solutions Scholarship at a May 3 ceremony. Photo by Nancy Johnson/ASU

Despite feeling isolated from having few friends in school, Morrow pushed themselves academically and joined a school program for gifted students.

Morrow wrote letters to their father, who would write back, but it wasn’t the same as having an in-person presence.

“While my dad could not see me, I wanted him to be proud of me, and see that I could succeed even when we weren’t together,” Morrow said.

Morrow, a first-generation college student, dreams of becoming a lawyer, “specifically, a criminal defense attorney, so that I can help those who don’t have anyone looking out for them, like my dad didn’t have.”

Morrow’s mother recently began a new job. But 10 years after his incarceration ended, their father is unable to gain higher-paying positions, Morrow wrote, "I often do not see him as he is constantly working low-wage jobs to attempt to help pay for my tuition.”

In an interview with ASU News, Morrow said that, after graduating, they plan to take the next academic year off to gain public-sector experience working for a Minnesota state agency before applying to law school.

“I’d like to work to reform some of the state laws, and become a public defender,” Morrow said.

Proceeds from this year’s show will fund a 2025 scholarship.

The School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is part of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

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