Michigan History Museum - States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue on Local Histories

Date:  September 08, 2018  -  May 19, 2019
Time: All Day Event
Location: Michigan History Museum, 702 W. Kalamazoo St., Lansing, MI 48915

The words States of Incarceration are placed over white horizontal stripes and a purple background

See museum hours and regular admission.

Michigan's history of incarceration is full of contradictions.

When Michigan became a state in 1837, one of the first institutions proposed by the new governor was a prison. A decade later, Michigan became the world's first English-speaking government to ban the death penalty. And by the early 20th century, Michigan State Prison in Jackson was the largest walled prison in the world.

"States of Incarceration" is a national traveling exhibit that looks at the history and future of mass incarceration in the United States. In It was created by university students and formerly incarcerated individuals from 30 communities across the country. Investigating why the U.S. incarcerates more people than at any point in our history and more people than any other nation in the world, they examined their communities' histories, shared stories, searched archives and visited correctional facilities.

You'll also find out about the history of incarceration in Michigan with stories and artifacts from our own museum and archives collections. Highlights include the story of the last stagecoach robber in Michigan, the history of youth incarceration and Michigan prison labor. You'll see rare prisoner photographs and elaborate furniture made by prisoners. Young visitors are encouraged to ask, "what is fair?"

Free monthly programs, listed below with links to more information, take a deeper dive into issues surrounding incarceration and the current bipartisan efforts to reform the criminal justice system. Programs are supported by the Michigan Humanities Council.

This exhibit is included with museum admission. You can save on admission and receive other great benefits when you become a Michigan History Center member.


The Michigan History Museum—flagship of the Michigan History Museum System—is located in the east wing of the Michigan Library and Historical Center. Sunday admission and weekend parking are free. Read more Michigan History Museum visitor information.

We invite you to explore our online calendar, where you'll find all Michigan History Center events throughout the state.

Updated 10/26/2018