Prisoners cleaning the Great Mississippi River Road after the flood. Alton, Illinois, 2008. © Jo Ann Walters, from the series Dog Town.
Chance, or seemingly chance, encounters between photographers and prisoner road crews are not uncommon – portraits by Roger Kisby and Alec Soth spring to mind as similar types of images. Not to mention the dozens of photographers including Scott Houston, Jon Lowenstein and Jim Lo Scalzo who’ve photographed Sheriff Joe Arapio’s chain-gang publicity stunts.
I’ve always lived on the west coast and I haven’t happened upon prisoner work teams but I think this is because the work, for example, of the 200 fire crews and 4,000 offenders at the 42 California DOC Conservation Camps goes on in isolated areas.
How about you? Have you ever seen prisoners on your daily commute or holiday road-trips?