Cartoonist goes to jail, makes a difference

Cartoonist and animator Elana Pritchard violated a court order in June and wound up spending two months in jail, first in the Century Regional Detention Facility (CRDF) in Lynwood, California, and the last three weeks in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles.

Placed in a difficult situation, Pritchard made the most of her time behind bars. Using a golf pencil and whatever paper she could find, she documented what she saw in a series of fascinating cartoons that LA Weekly published together with Pritchard's commentary.

Reading the comics is enough to scare anyone straight: She depicts "squat n' cough" searches, sinks buzzing with flies, and being transported to court on a bus with a group of male prisoners hollering "Show us your tits!" Her comics are funny but pointed, and a couple of them have already made a difference: One comic shows a guard turning down Pritchard's request for a shower, her first in four days; the guard says "Not long enough! There are some people who haven't showered in a week!" Another shows the guards waiting till 1 p.m. to turn the lights on. In the comments to the article, Pritchard says,

My jail comics have changed LA County sheriff's policy. I spoke to a Lieutenant yesterday and he said there is a new policy in place that all inmates must be given a shower within 24 hours of entering the jail. Also, deputies must keep a log of when the lights go on in the morning.

Pritchard has posted some additional jail comics on her own blog, and she was interviewed on the local radio show Deadline as well.

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