“Listen, you don’t have a lot of time. I just want to show you something.” And I reached into my pocket and pulled out my old prison ID. The Senator looked at it, and then I went in my other pocket and showed him this college ID. And I said to him, “This is the different side. That is the difference.” And he responded, “Enough said.”     — Dominique Bell, project collaborator

Future IDs at Alcatraz is a yearlong project, exhibition, and series of monthly public programs. The installation features ID-inspired artworks created by and with individuals who have conviction histories as they conceive and develop a vision for a future self. In stark contrast to prison-issued IDs, these artworks represent individual stories of transformation.

Social practice artist Gregory Sale leads a team that works to translates criminal justice reform efforts into a visual language. Together, Sale, Dr. Luis Garcia, Kirn Kim, Sabrina Reid, Jessica Tully, and many others are exploring ways to shift thinking about rehabilitation, reentry, and reintegration.

Installed in the New Industries Building, the project functions as a platform for conversation through a variety of performances, workshops, and civic dialogue experiments that are co-curated with community partners. Throughout the year, the Future IDs team will co-host public programs, continue to offer artmaking workshops, accept contributions of new IDs, and evolve the installation to amplify the voices and visions of individuals returning to everyday life after incarceration.


Future IDs at Alcatraz invites reflection on the criminal justice system, second chances, and individual freedoms in the United States. Today, this country has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated people. More than 95% will eventually be released. Of those incarcerated, people living below the poverty line and people of color are disproportionately represented.

The project emerged from a fluid collaborative process with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition in Los Angeles and has grown over four years into a multi-layered initiative, involving more than twenty community organizations. Working closely with LaVell Baylor, Dominique Bell, Dr. Luis Garcia, Kirn Kim, Ryan Lo, Aaron Mercado, and Sabrina Reid, Sale and many collaborators designed the project and led artmaking workshops across California, both inside prisons and in communities.

Though none of the Future IDs participants were incarcerated on Alcatraz, individuals returning to society – both then and now – face an almost insurmountable stigma of having a history of incarceration, contributing to consistently high rates of recidivism. The project engages Alcatraz’s layered history as iconic federal prison, birthplace of the Native American Red Power Movement, national park, and international Site of Conscience. It is presented in partnership with the Art in the Parks program of the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy.