Aija Butane: Penitentiary

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Posted on May 30, 2015 by Aija Butane

Penitentiary is an institution of retributive justice. It’s that kind of justice that concentrates on prosecution and punishment. It’s opposite to transitional justice that rebuilds societies after human right’s violations. One condemns the perpetrator, the other focuses on healing the victim. There are various ways to perform justice. One might feel that in order to achieve justice, a prison sentence is necessary. I want to question that. I’m not sure if the dark prison cells with stale air, peeling paint, and collapsed floor will turn the guilt into remorse. In my vision the goal is for the wrongdoers to confess and rediscover their humanity. In that case the sentence to this house of correction, or rather coercion, might be a mixed signal. If we want them to change, why lock them in this horrific cage that builds up their hate and indifference?

I want to make it clear that I’m not advocating for blank amnesties and impunity. I’m trying to find a better way to restore justice and reconcile. A justice that would promote remembrance and forgiveness and give the victim a voice. Penitentiary is a place where the justice is supposed to be executed and yet it is concentrated on the perpetrator and leaves the victim neglected. Maybe the penitentiary is a sign of miscarriage of justice after all?

About the Author: Aija Butane is a foreign exchange student, enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.  She recently returned to her homeland, Latvia, where she plans to continue her studies specializing in human rights.

Greg Lewis: “I Simply Can’t Imagine”

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Posted on May 27, 2015 by Greg Lewis

Martese Johnson…Michael Brown…Eric Gardner… these names evoke specific emotions and images to many. Specifically the fear of not being able to walk freely in a country that not only promises freedom but was in fact that was founded on freedom. The anger of being denied what the founders of this country described as, “certain inalienable rights”. And ultimately, the sadness, of realizing that after years of hard work there are still those who hold on to prejudices, biases and animosity which should have no place in our society or our world.

Often when someone is arraigned you’ll find that certain ethnicities, especially Black Males, tend to have “mug shots” released to the media. Whereas others have high school or college photos,which are used to acquaint said persons with the general populace. There is a stark contrast of opinions formed between the two. You associate one set of photos with very negative actions. The other with college education, careers as nurses or physicians, or maybe even dancers or business persons.

As you observe the following photographs I challenge you to take note of the thoughts or assumptions that you yourself make. At the end ask yourself whether after observing all the photos if your original assumptions have truly changed concerning the first photo you observed of the persons.


Photography and Text by Greg Lewis, Copyright 2015


About the Author: Gregory Lewis is majoring in Nursing, enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.

Elizabeth Ames: Cafe Renata

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Posted on May 22, 2015 by Elizabeth Ames

Café Renata was a popular brunch spot in University City. It was always filled with college students on Sunday mornings, patiently waiting for their turn to get seated. Delicious brunch foods were served and the restaurant smartly offered a “boozy brunch” option: if a table bought a carafe of orange juice, they would receive a complimentary bottle of champagne.

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But disaster struck at the restaurant located at 43rd and Locust Streets. On March 12, a fire started when towels were taken out of the dryer and weren’t put away. According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the combination of heat in the towels and static electricity were what caused the fire to start.

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Now the restaurant is completely boarded up and locked. The windows that you can still see are so filled with soot that you can barely see the old neon “Open” sign that used to glare from the window. There is trash along the sidewalk in front of the store. But the owners still have hope to reopen soon. There was a fundraiser sponsored by local businesses to help raise money so Café Renata can open again soon. There is now a poster on the front of the building thanking people for their support.

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While it is still unclear if Café Renata will reopen, it is obvious that the owners want to reestablish their restaurant. And the locals clearly want Café Renata to come back to the neighborhood. Hopefully the boards and locks will be removed soon and the restaurant will once again be a vibrant part of University City.


Photography and Text by Elizabeth Ames, Copyright 2015


About The Author:  Elizabeth Ames is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.  She is pursuing a career in Criminology.  To read more articles by Elizabeth Ames, go to the search bar at the bottom of the page: type in author’s name, click the search icon.