Are You a Criminal? Forward Festival brings We Are All Criminals to Madison

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More Than 65 Million People In The United States Have A Criminal Record - But What About The Other 75%? Those Of Us With Criminal Histories, But No Record?

We Are All Criminals, a project created to raise awareness about inequality in the United States criminal justice system, will exhibit on the third floor of the Madison Central Library from Aug. 24-27, as part of The Forward Festival.

Rachel Neill, a co-organizer of the event along with Shobhan Thakkar, said, “We are really excited to bring Emily Baxter and We Are All Criminals to Madison. We hope to raise awareness about the disparate impact of our criminal justice system on the poor and on people of color.” Baxter, the project’s director, will also speak at the library on Aug. 26 from 5-7 p.m. This free event is open to the public (see for more information) and will include complimentary beer and food from Mobcraft and Underground Catering.

“One in four people in the United States has a criminal record,” the We Are All Criminals (WAAC) website states. “This project looks at the other 75%: those of us who have had the luxury of living without an official reminder of a past mistake. Participants in We Are All Criminals tell stories of crimes they got away with.”

Madison is one stop of many on WAAC’s nationwide tour. Baxter, a fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School’s Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, said:

"We’ve been busy spreading the word—from St Paul to St Louis, New York to New Orleans, in colleges, churches, synagogues, non-profits, for-profits, law firms and state agencies—about the need to acknowledge our roles in the problem, and move forward together with solutions. It’s an examination of race, class, and justice; it’s a demand for reason, mercy, and hope in our criminal justice system and greater society."

The Forward Festival, a self-proclaimed “eight-day celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship,” runs from Aug. 20-27 and features more than a dozen events highlighting Madison’s advances in industries as diverse as technology, food and startups. This WAAC event is made possible by sponsorships from Widen, Mobcraft, Underground Catering, the Madison Public Library and Field59.

We Are All Criminals is a non-profit, non-partisan organization inspiring empathy and igniting social change through personal stories, disrupting the barriers that separate us. To learn more about We Are All Criminals, visit its website (; read what others have said on Upworthy, TakePart, The Times Picayune NOLA, Smithsonian Mag and the Yale Herald; connect on Twitter and Facebook; share your story; and help spread the word.

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Rachel Neill