Support Poetry Magazine's Decision to Not Consider An Author's Conviction History.

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We applaud Poetry Magazine’s decision to select poetry for publication without regard to conviction history. A just, humane, and effectively functioning society must have punishment, but it must also afford basic human dignity to those it punishes. That obligation includes allowing people to participate in civic society, and to pursue a positive and productive life, including people with sex-related convictions.

In contrast, the demand to impose one exclusion after another on people who have already been punished implicitly assumes our right to disappear them from society, based on our individual judgments. Such carceral thinking has led to unjust and damaging policies that have incarcerated millions, and now exclude people from housing, employment, and public spaces, for life. 

People with conviction histories include our neighbors, family members, and community members. They should be included in critiquing our systems of punishment and welcome in civic life. Publishing poetry without regard to conviction is a small step, but it affirms the inherent dignity and capacity of all people with convictions.

              If you have principles, you must stand by them, even when it’s inconvenient. Poetry Magazine stood by the principle of inclusion, and against the imposition of civic death, when it included people with sex-related convictions. We hope others will follow.