The Human Rights Program is thrilled to announce Jason Zencka--an MFA candidate in fiction writing at the University of Minnesota-- as a 2014 Scribe for Human Rights. The goal of the Scribe for Human Rights Fellowship is to use creative narrative to reflect the different faces of victims of human rights abuses and to provide a broader array of professional experience to graduate student writers. It tries to create a platform for human rights advocacy through creative art.
Zencka graduated from the St. Olaf University with a B.A in Classics. After graduating, he worked as news reporter for a small newspaper in Wisconsin before moving to Washington D.C., where he spent four years working for the Public Defender Service as an investigator.
Zencka will spend this summer writing a fictional play, The Plea, in which he will discuss the issue of incarcerating an overwhelming percentage of the U.S population. During his time with the Public Defender Service, Zencka witnessed the inside workings of the incarceration system, granting him a deeper understanding of the human consequences associated with high incarceration rates. Inspired by this experience, Zencka chose to focus his creative pursuits on the ethical and humane dimensions of this issue. "The play makes use of the radical idea that the men and women we incarcerate - even those who have done terrible things - still suffer the full range of human feelings. Their humanity doesn't disappear when we stop seeing them. The play is an effort to see these people, to open a window into the hole into which we are throwing almost one percent of our adult population." explained Zencka.
"Working under the banner of the Human Rights Program is an honor. I am thrilled to be invited to take part in the rich and impassioned conversation on human rights the Scribe Fellowship has been hosting for years." stated Zencka.