James Hough

“The current criminal injustice system is corrupt, ultra-politicized, ultra-punitive, racist, classist, etc. The current system is surrounded in mystery because it cannot operate in sunlight. The current system consumes people and money – 50,000+ people and over 2 billion dollars annually. It knows no solutions except to grow larger. A modern slavery.”

James YaYa Hough

My name is James Hough, most people who know me call me Yaya. I am from Pittsburgh, PA. At age 17, I was arrested, charged and convicted of the crime of murder. I regret committing this act because I now fully understand how precious life is. I also know how punitive and unforgiving the system is. For the past 23 years, I’ve been serving a mandatory Life Without Parole sentence. Fortunately, I’ve used my prison time constructively. Initially, I took time and did a lot of deep soul-searching to understand the root causes of what led me to prison. I also continue to educate myself, so I can better empower myself and others.

Since 2006 I’ve been blessed to be able to use my artistic talent to work with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program as a muralist. To date I’ve completed over 50+ projects in Philadelphia and the State Correctional Institution (SCI) at Graterford. I have had too many amazing experiences to list as a working member of Mural Arts. I wanted to be involved in Decarcerate PA! and Project LifeLines because I want to be part of changing the prison system in Pennsylvania and abolishing Life Without Parole, especially for lifers deserving a second chance.