© Matthew Ryan Williams

Oregon spotted frogs at the Cedar Creek prison, WA. © Matthew Ryan Williams for the New York Times

Seattle photographer and all round nice guy, Matt Williams had his work published by the New York Times recently in an article titled Raising Frogs for Freedom, Prison Project Opens Doors. Williams himself pitched the story about the Prison Sustainability Project and teamed up with writer Kirk Johnson. The story has all the right ingredients – charismatic fauna, positive environmental change, a challenge of stereotypes, and social justice thought that bucks the lock ’em trend and attitudes.

Johnson writes:

“The prisoners, who trained with a state biologist but also learned from one another, must compete to enter the program and maintain a record of perfect behavior to stay in it. They are paid 42 cents an hour, standard prison wages, for 10-hour workdays that involve sometimes tedious tasks like monitoring the frogs’ water temperature or harvesting the hundreds of crickets grown for frog food — something that even an oppressed graduate student might avoid at real wages.”

and:

“It is about procedural order, point A to point B, with every step measured and marked for others to check and follow. And when the focus of that work is a creature that undergoes a profound metamorphosis from egg to tadpole to adult, the lesson is also one about the possibilities of change.”

The program is exemplary, as are the other prison environmental/education programs mentioned in the article. Good stuff.

You can see more images over at Matt’s blog.

PREVIOUSLY ON PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY

I’ve held the Prison Sustainability Project in high esteem for some time:

Science in Prison, Change within Ourselves
Benjamin Drummond, Sara Joy Steele, Nature and Washington State Prisons
Prison Moss Project

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