People ask how photojournalists and documentary makers get access to prisons, so I ask the photographers I meet. For every photographer, circumstances and events are unique.


The Society of Professional Journalists details media prison access policy, contacts, visitation rules, forms and permitted equipment state-by-state. There is no home page for the data, so I’ll link you to the Virginia Dept. of Corrections guidelines.

Prisoners in Virgina will be needing more visits to fill their time as their right to receive books via charities has just been withdrawn. The feeble reasoning by the Virginia DoC:

Because Quest [the Books Behind Bars program organiser] sent books directly to offenders and utilized volunteers to send these books, there was nothing in place to stop someone from attempting to introduce contraband to an offender by secreting it in a book.

This is plainly an excuse. It is also an embarrassment. If a prison system cannot provide efficient (and secure) passage of educational materials to its wards, then is it a system we should have any respect for or trust in?

These broken systems should be in our view.