Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State

Washington • deborah Espinosa


About the project

Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State confronts, in partnership with formerly incarcerated individuals, how Washington has been sentencing people to not just prison, but to a lifetime of debt. The project leverages multimedia storytelling and civic engagement to raise awareness about, and advocate for an end to, onerous court-imposed costs, fees, fines, and restitution, aka “legal financial obligations,” which accrue interest at a rate of 12%. Living with Conviction goes beyond the polarizing headlines and statistics of mass incarceration to share stories of common humanity, stories of families torn apart by the criminal justice system, and stories of addiction, mental illness, abuse, and trauma, but also of ­­­­recovery, resilience, healing, and love.

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About the Artist

Deborah Espinosa is an artist and activist living in Seattle, Washington. She combines her legal and multimedia storytelling skills to advocate for the rights of the poor and marginalized, both at home and throughout several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She also works to strengthen those rights, providing legal technical assistance to state and national governments. She believes that multimedia storytelling is one of the most powerful advocacy tools for reform of unjust law and policy.