From prison to canvas — Art by NJ youth seeking 2nd chance
TRENTON — "A joker is someone who hides their pain by hypnotizing everyone with a smile. I do not want anyone to see my pain."
Twenty-four-year-old Logic Redding, of Newark, says that description, and his drawing that goes along with it, is a reflection of himself.
He spent six years in New Jersey State Prison, up until age 22, and he'll never be able "to shake that off," he says.
And while he admits to breaking and entering into a home, and being in possession of drugs, he maintains that he is not guilty of a gun-possession charge that added to his sentence.
"I just smile, I make jokes about everything, I laugh, I have a great time — just to hide the pain," Redding told us.
Redding's piece was one of several on display Thursday at an art exhibit in the State House Annex, featuring the work of young individuals who had been involved in the juvenile or criminal justice systems.
Redding also provided a voice-over for a video on display, detailing his time in prison.
Since getting out, Redding's turned his life around for the better. Besides family, he no longer interacts with the individuals he knew before imprisonment.
His 2-year-old daughter is his "pride and joy," and he's about to transfer to Rutgers University to study criminal justice.
Redding currently works for the Salvation Army in Newark, and he landed an internship with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, which co-hosted the art exhibit.
The event was part of the Institute's 150 Years is Enough campaign, which aims to transform the juvenile justice system by closing youth prisons and creating a community-based system of care.
"Our juvenile justice system is scarred by extreme racial disparities and recidivism," state Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex, said in a statement. "This exhibition shares the artwork of those who have been incarcerated, enabling all of us to see their talents, stories, and limitless possibilities."