Take Action Around 'Herman's House'
- Create your own prison cell project by taping the outline of a 6-by-9-foot cell in a public place. Invite people to enter the "cell" and provide a way for them to share their thoughts (such as a bulletin board next to the cell on which people can post responses or an MP3 recorder and a website dedicated to the project on which to share the files). Consider handing out informational flyers about Herman Wallace's case to people who participate or pass by.
- Convene a debate or teach-in on the use of solitary confinement. Be sure to include the perspectives of those most directly affected, such as prison guards, persons who have served time in solitary and their families, as well as policy makers and prison administrators.
- Hold a dream house design exchange involving members of your group and people who are in prison (by writing letters to them or through other means) or people who were formerly incarcerated. Ask group members to share the reasons for their design choices (the way that Wallace explains that he wants flowers in front of his house to "make guests smile").
- Wallace wants to include in his house "three to five portraits with these revolutionaries, such as Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, John Brown and, of course, Harriet Tubman." Investigate the stories of these people. Discuss why Wallace would want their portraits in his house. Make your own list of people whose portraits you would display in your home. Compare and contrast your list to Wallace's. Finally, choose a portrait for your home and invite the group to a celebration during which you hang the portrait for display.
- Design a prison focused on inmate reentry into the community. Compare your design to the existing facilities in the prison system in your state in terms of size, location, appearance, construction materials, security and the kind of daily life created for the people who work there as correction officers and live there as prisoners. Discuss what the current prison system suggests about our society's attitudes toward people who have been convicted of crimes and the prospects for rehabilitation. What is the responsibility of a prison architect?
- Visit hermanshouse.org/support.php to sign up to receive progress updates on the construction of Herman Wallace's house.
- Write letters to Herman Wallace or Albert Woodfox and let them know what you thought about the film:
#76759 Elayn Hunt Correctional Center CCR -D-#11
PO Box 174 St Gabriel, LA 70776 USA
#72148 David Wade Correctional Center
NIA 670 Bell Hill Road Homer, LA 71040 USA
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
This guide is an invitation to dialogue. It is based on a belief in the power of human connection, designed for people who want to use Herman’s House to engage family, friends, classmates, colleagues and communities. In contrast to initiatives that foster debates in which participants try to convince others that they are right, this document envisions conversations undertaken in a spirit of openness in which people try to understand one another and expand their thinking by sharing viewpoints and listening actively.
In this lesson, students will look at one of those concepts: cruel and unusual punishments. In particular, they will use a lesson focused on the relationship between evidence and opinion as they examine whether or not prolonged solitary confinement should be declared unconstitutional based on the Eighth Amendment.
This list of fiction and nonfiction books, compiled by Erica Bess, Susan Conlon and Hanna Lee of Princeton Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary Herman's House.