15 TO LIFE:
How I Painted my Way to Freedom
by Anthony Papa and Jennifer Wynn

Publisher:  Feral House

Pub Date:  Fall 2004

Format:   Hardcover

Brief Description
The true-life story of Anthony Papa, who served 12 years in Sing Sing after being convicted for the (first-time) offense of selling a few ounces of cocaine, but while in prison, he took up painting and literally painted his way out (he was discovered by the Whitney, which led to Governor Pataki's personally granting him clemency after 12 years).
(see below for Full Description)

Endorsements
"Anthony Papa has written a riveting account of how he courageously painted his way to freedom from prison after unnecessarily serving twelve years. His story puts a human face on the nearly one miliion nonviolent drug offenders confined in prisons throughout the country."
--Susan Sarandon, actor/activist

"Papa's story gives me the chills. He's been through so much you won't believe it 'till you read it."
--Jack Black -Actor

"A powerful memoir of one man's struggle for freedom, 15 to Life tells in vivid prose the story of Anthony Papa, a painter and a casualty of the War on Drugs. This journey of a soul shows the power of art to transcend the violence of prison, and all that is possible when the human spirit refuses to be contained. Papa's account should be required reading for New York lawmakers and all Americans who care about civil liberties."
--Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking)

 

Review Highlights
"This tension-filled memoir by a prisoner turned activist and artist may seem familiar after Jennifer Gonnerman's NBA-nominated Life on the Outside, but 
unlike Gonnerman, Papa describes excessive imprisonment under harsh drug laws with the grim certainty of firsthand experience."
--Publishers Weekly

"Papa has an astounding visual imagination. 15 to Life is more than an insider's view of New York's prison archipelago. It's also a powerful statement against a war on drugs."
--New York Press

Full Description
        
In the vein of SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION or BIRD MAN OF ALCATRAZ comes 15 TO LIFE, the true, heartbreaking story of Anthony Papa. Mr. Papa, a 24 year old down on his luck, with a wife and child to support and a failing business, was offered a chance to make a quick $500. All he had to do was deliver an envelope. He agreed. He didn’t know there were 4 ounces of cocaine inside, or that it was a police sting operation, or that his action—his first and only criminal offense—would cost him a mandatory 15 years in Sing-Sing, New York state’s maximum security prison.
         His life changed overnight. His wife left him; he couldn’t watch his daughter grow up; and the best years of his life would be spent in a 6 x 6 cell. He contemplated suicide. And then one day he discovered painting. It gave him hope, and he discovered a talent. When the Whitney came calling years later, they chose his painting to feature. He received intense media attention. Governor Pataki got wind of his case, and after 12 hard years of time, Anthony Papa was granted clemency.
         15 TO LIFE is more than a dramatic story, more than an inside look at the most dangerous and notorious prison in America today—it is also an important sociological work and a call for reform. The current New York mandatory Rockefeller drug laws are unfair. There is a huge lobby to have them changed, and Anthony Papa is at the center of it. The media attention is already intense (he has been profiled on national TV and in hundreds of articles, from The Washington Post to The New York Times), and it is predicted that the laws will change next year, just when 15 TO LIFE is published.
         Co-author Jennifer Wynn is author of INSIDE RIKER’S, recently published by St. Martins Press, already in its third printing. The book has received excellent reviews in The New York Times, Maxim, and others, and was a featured pick of New York Magazine. She reviews prison-related books for The Washington Post..

Endorsements

"Anthony Papa has written a riveting account of how he courageously painted his way to freedom from prison after unnecessarily serving twelve years. His story puts a human face on the nearly one miliion nonviolent drug offenders confined in prisons throughout the country."
--Susan Sarandon, actor/activist

"Papa's story gives me the chills. He's been through so much you won't believe it 'till you read it."
--Jack Black -Actor

"A powerful memoir of one man's struggle for freedom, 15 to Life tells in vivid prose the story of Anthony Papa, a painter and a casualty of the War on Drugs. This journey of a soul shows the power of art to transcend the violence of prison, and all that is possible when the human spirit refuses to be contained. Papa's account should be required reading for New York lawmakers and all Americans who care about civil liberties."
--Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking)

"Anthony Papa's 15 TO LIFE is a gripping account of justice gone wrong and an inspiring story of personal triumph. It is a scathing indictment of the antiquated Rockefeller drug laws that have imprisoned thousands of nonviolent offenders and wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer money."
--Andrew Cuomo, Former US HUD Secretary

"Anthony Papa's 15 To Life is a must-read for the hip-hop community. Over 94% of the 18,000 people locked up under New York's Drug Laws, the harshest drug laws in the country, are black or Hispanic. Like Papa, I am trying to end these racist laws. We need your voice. You can start by reading this book"
-- Russell Simmons (CHAIRMAN, HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK)

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to join with everyone who has gathered here tonight to herald the release of Anthony Papa's powerful new memoir 15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom. This very personal and tragic story, like those of so many other non-violent offenders languishing in our prisons on relatively minor drug offenses, illustrates the impact that our Rockefeller Drug Laws have had on a generation of New Yorkers. I applaud Mr. Papa's courage in speaking out and sharing his ordeal with the world. In doing so, he joins the very large chorus of voices calling for reform of this injustice."
--Eliot Spitzer
Attorney General


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