Lois Ahrens has been an activist and organizer for social justice for more than 50 years. She is the founding director of the Real Cost of Prisons Project, a national organization based in Northampton, MA. She is also a founding member of The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.
In 2000, Lois began the Real Cost of Prisons Project which brings together activists, artists, justice policy researchers and people directly experiencing the impacts of mass incarceration to organize to end the carceral state.
Lois believes we can only authentically and fundamentally change the costly and damaging systems of mass incarceration and mass criminalization through being guided by the insight and leadership of families of incarcerated people and through knowing and working with formerly incarcerated and incarcerated people.
Her correspondence and visits with people who are incarcerated has led her to focus on extremely long sentences and the punitive and damaging conditions of confinement faced by all people who are incarcerated in the U.S.