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A quick heads up for a new photography project about prisons. Jessica Earnshaw has embarked on an investigation of aging in prison. So far, Earnshaw has visited Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Indiana, Maine State Prison and Maine Correctional Center. to make stills and videos that reflect the circumstances of elderly prisoners.

Of course, the greying of America’s prisons is a massive issue. Compassionate release for men and women who are clearly infirm and clearly no threat to society as they may have been 10, 20, 30 or 40 years ago seems to me to be a no-brainer.

The project is in its very early stages and Earnshaw is sharing snippets on Instagram. Follow @AgingInPrison, listen and watch that space.

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The Fault Lines programme on English Al-Jazeera looks at America’s aging prison population. Reporter Josh Rushing gets exclusive access across the US, but the most astounding footage is from the Geriatric Unit of the Joseph Harp Correction Center, Lexington, Oklahoma.

Fault Lines also visits the Mabel Bassett Correction Center, Oklahoma’s largest women’s prison.

NOTES

* At the time of filming, Oklahoma’s prison system was operating at 75% staffing, referred to by administration as “warehouse mode”; housing but not rehabilitating prisoners.

* Check out Sherman Parker’s situation beginning at 9.38. Sherman is 100 years old. He is cared for by Seth Anderson, another inmate convicted for kidnap and drug and weapon possession. Anderson speaks frankly about the hospice care at the Dick Conner Correctional Center, Oklahoma.

* Prisoners over 55 years account for the fastest growing class of inmates in America.

* Only three out of every 100 inmates over 55 years return to prison after release, compared to the national average of over 60%.

* Fishkill Correctional Facility, 70 miles north of New York is the nations first purpose-built unit for the cognitively impaired. The average age is 63 and many prisoners suffer from Alzheimer’s and other conditions of dementia.

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