Bryan Stevenson. Photo: Nick Frontiero/Courtesy of HBO Before I meet with Bryan Stevenson, I tour the museum he opened around the corner from his office. The heat in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, is more Arizona suburb than Gulf riverfront today, but thankfully, the Legacy Museum's employees resist the impulse to blast subzero air conditioning to compensate. The museum has been operating for more than a year now. Though its subject is epic in scope — black history "from slavery to mass incarceration" — its most arresting feature is the row of booths nestled in the back corner. Beyond the slave-auction advertisements, lynching photos, and Jim Crow–era signs barring "Colored" entry to everything from bus depots to diners stands an approximation of a modern-day prison visitation center. Each booth has a phone and a black leather stool in front of it and contains a screen with a life-sized video recording of a formerly incarcerated person in prison grays. Pick up the receiver and you can listen to them speak. They do so in plain and declarative sentences about prison life — the vindictive guards, the dwindling family visits, the hopelessness of a life where your worst mistake is a pretext for the disavowal of… Read full this story
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