Prisoner’s Rights Advertisements

When researching advertisements that relate to the prisoner’s rights movement, the first thing that can be noticed is the fact that there are not too many out there. The ones that are all take on a solemn tone, which makes sense considering the issues they address are
those such as prison rape, the death penalty, and


Fig 1: Anti-death penalty advertisement put out by Amnesty International.

the excessive mass incarceration of the United States population.  The ads themselves are trying to convey the gravity of the situation, and do so by taking on a very serious, almost disheartening mood. Because of this, while the ads do not seem to be solely addressing any one age group, it can be reasonably assumed that they appeal to young adults or adults who are old enough to handle the content. 

All three of the ads used a sans-serif font. This is most likely because sans-serif is easy to see and read from a distance, and are therefore the more ideal font choice for
advertisements. Not only that, but sans-serif is m


Fig 2: An ad put out by Just Detention International, whose motto is “rape is not part of the penalty.”

ore likely to be used for emphasis, and all three advertisements tried to take on a bit of shock-value, which could be helped with an emphatic font.  The colors used throughout the ads are generally darker, cold colors. Once again, this ties back to the actual bleakness of the topics being portrayed. Figure one is made almost entirely of black and white, which provides a high amount of contrast, as well as making consumers focus on the message rather than the picture. Going beyond even just color, the use of texture in the image adds another dimension to the add, and makes the melting of the candle seem more real, and creates an illusion of it being in 3D. In contrast figure two uses color, but the colors are very bland, and even in the “non-prisoner” picture, colors that are associated with the prison scene are used, which serves to make the ad topic recognizable. Figure three is slightly different, but it also portrays a different message. The forefront is black, but the background has some light, implying there is hope in the distance. Furthermore, the phrase “lets build a better America together” is in a light blue, also giving the the brighter outlook and a sense of hope.

All three advertisements make good use of white space, whether it be the black space behind the melting electric chair, the wall behind the prisoner, or the sky.


Figure 3: Add put out by the NAACP discussing mass incarceration in the United States.

This white space serves the draw the reader’s eye to the main point of the ad, and prevents the viewer from becoming overwhelmed by visual stimulus, or as said in White Space, “inducing psychosis.” The use of white space with color contrast works well in the advertisements to draw the viewers eye to the main subject of the ad.

All in all, these ads do a very good job portraying the message they want, and have a lot of positive aspects. One issue found was the text in figures one and two is in all caps, which according to White Space is Not Your Enemy, is one of the 13 amateur sins as it causes the letters to loose their shape. Also in figure two, the white font on the first picture of the man is kind of hard to read, and the advertisers may have been better off sticking to black until they got to the second man in the prisoner’s uniform. This could have made for better readability and could have added more contrast between the two pictures.  Besides that,  they do not address certain major issues facing prisoners, in particular as explained by this article, the lack of air conditioning in southern prisons, which is a major human rights violation that has no advertisement or publicity at all. However, considering the fact that there are many, many issues to be faced, these ads are overall good, and cannot be held accountable for not covering every conceivable human rights violation in the justice system.

This entry was posted in Blog #2. Researching Print Advertisements. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s