Artist Statement: Uncle Sam and the School to Prison Pipeline

By: Sarah Marlin

Our group explored juvenile incarceration and the criminal justice system, focusing primarily on the school to prison pipeline (STPP). This is the idea that large numbers of incarcerated minorities are due to the fact that so many are disenfranchised from the start, through school discipline such as suspension or expulsion.  As we began to do our research we wondered, does the school to prison pipeline exist? If so, how does it affect people based on age, gender, race or socio-economic status.

To show understanding of our topic, we created a pastiche of a modern movie poster. We chose the movie poster of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to satirize because of the similarities between a factory and the way the STPP works.

I was able to ridicule the American Judicial System by replacing the characters and props from the original film with people and objects related to our topic.  I replaced Willy Wonka with Uncle Sam, to illustrated how America is the main character in all of this, creating the movie title, Uncle Sam and the school to Prison Pipeline. The Umpalumpas, the factory workers for Willy Wonka, were turned into Judge Young and Judge Coleman, two Mississippi Judges, who, in a civil rights lawsuit in 2012, along with the Mississippi Department of Youth Services (DYS) were being sued for violating the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights of Meridian public school children.” The families in the movie were changed into juvenile inmates, representative of the ones that are put through the STPP.

The message of our poster is that in America, our criminal justice system and our education system are flawed. I think my pastiche was successful because all of the characters relationship to one another can parallel to the original movie.

Original Blu-Ray Movie Poster

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tennessee Tillery says:

    I found this very enlightening, I had heard some of the terms previously but I didn’t fully understand them until now.


  2. Makhissa says:

    Why did you guys keep the original poster? Can you explain it a little bit more…


  3. Mia teller says:

    I think this poster turned out really well! It incorporates a bunch of references to the school to prison pipeline while still remaining recognizable as the Willy Wonka poster–not an easy feat. Especially seeing it compared with the original is really nice because you can clearly see the elements that were tweaked.


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