The state prison system can be complex, but a professor of UNC's School of Government created an educational graphic novel with illustrations and diagrams that simplify the incarceration process for accused young people entering the system.
James Markham, a professor in the school of government, said he came up with the idea to make the lives of accused individuals, current prisoners and their families easier.
“I think it’s hard for people on their own, and even with the help of a lawyer, it’s hard to look at North Carolina sentencing law and really get a good understanding of what it means,” he said.
Shane Tharrington, an employee in the prison division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety who helped Markham with the book, said it will especially help young offenders.
“A big majority of the offenders we get nowadays, they’re younger, they’re less apt to want to read a narrative about what’s going on with their situation and the idea of a graphic novel, to me, seemed perfect for this new generation of people that are coming into our system in adult correction,” he said.
Markham said two sequels will come out within the next two years and will cover different parts of the legal system.
“One is about being on probation," Markham said. "There are a lot more people on probation in North Carolina than there are in prison — more than twice as many. And then the other one is about serving time in jail — in the county jail — instead of prison, which is where most people spend their time for misdemeanor sentences or impaired driving."
Jason Whitley, web applications developer in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and illustrator of the novel, said the narrative structure of the book will help people better understand the system.
“We have this character that’s going to go through all the different pathways through the legal system, and by having that character, you tell a story in a way that’s more difficult to do just in text,” he said.