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A quick note to say that I have taken down the PPOTR audio files of interviews with photographers I met during Prison Photography On The Road from the designated Podbean page and mirrored iTunes account.

The extensive time required to audio-edit and publish the interviews is just not something I currently have. I did not want to pay for monthly hosting any longer in the knowledge I wouldn’t be publishing them at any point in the next six or seven months.

But, do not fear! As you know, the interviews are the key component of the upcoming Prison Photography photobook. I have the best intern in the world transcribing all the interviews and the publisher Silas Finch and I have plans for a digital edition of the book which will include all the interviews in full – both audio and transcripts. I also hope desperately, that in the future I’ll be able to host the PPOTR project in full on a dedicated website.

I thank all those who responded positively to the 16 interviews I published in the past year. I hope you understand and will be patient enough to wait for all 65 interviews to be given the full treatment. All in good time.


I recently sent out the last of the goodies to the Prison Photography on the Road (PPOTR) funders. The packages included the PPOTR Mixtape (actually a CD) and I wanted to share its content with the wider world too.

On the road, I went through hundreds of CDs while driving those 12,500 miles, but I kept coming back to a compilation of soul put together – shortly before my departure – by my good friend Brendan Seibel. He used to work at Amoeba Records and in the realm of music, has forgotten more than I will ever know. Thank you Brendan.


Track 1

Lette Mbulu – Kube

Track 2

Jean Wells – Have a Little Mercy

Track 3

Fabulous Denos – Bad Girl

Track 4

Betty James – I’m Not Mixed Up Anymore

No Youtube clip for this one, but some background here and MPS here.

Track 5

Johnny Watson – I Say, I Love You

Track 6

Lee Shot Williams – You’re Welcome to the Club

Track 7

Apagya Show Band – Kwaku Ananse

Track 8

The Psychedelic Aliens – We’re Laughing

Track 9

Horace Andy – Skylarking

Track 10

Jennifer Lara – Consider Me

Track 11

Angela Prince – No Bother With No Fuss

Track 12

Burning Spear – Fire Down Below

Track 13

John Holt – Strange Things

Track 14

Charlotte Dada – Don’t Let Me Down

Track 15

Rosemary – Not Much (Do You Baby)

Track 16

Albert King – Had You Told It Like It Was (I Wouldn’t Be Like It Is)

Track 17

Johnny Knight – Little Ann

No Youtube or MPS for Little Ann, so Knight’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Guitar acts as substitute.

Track 18

Freddy King – Now I’ve Got A Woman

Track 19

Sinner Strong – Don’t Knock It

Track 20

Little Willie John – I’m Shakin’

Track 21

Sam & Bill – I Feel Like Cryin’

Track 22

Marion Black – Who Knows

Track 23

Ken Boothe & Stranger Cole – Arte Bella

Track 24

Freddie McGregor – Bobby Bobylon

Track 25

Jerry Jones – There’s a Chance for Me

Track 26

Mahmoud Ahmed – Gizié Dègu Nègèr

Listen here.

Track 27

Oscar Sulley & The Uhuru Dance Band – Bukom Mashie

In 2008, Tim Gruber embedded at the Kentucky State Reformatory to photograph in the geriatric wing designated for elderly and terminally ill patients. The result is Served Out, a photography and multimedia project. Here, I featured six images included in the PPOTR/Cruel and Unusual exhibition, but you should check out Tim and Jenn’s website for more stellar images.

Both Tim and his wife Jenn Ackerman worked in KSR the same summer. Tim is unequivocal: their access was down to then-Warden Larry Chandler’s good grace and good sense. Chandler wanted people to see how their tax dollars were spent and understood photography as part of the transparency he insisted on for the institution. KSR even gave weekly tours of its facilities.

Tim and Jenn, after brief training, were given staff-badges and were free to go about their work in the prison. They moved down to La Grange, KY for the summer to make the project and it wasn’t easy; Tim blogged some of the challenges (one, two, three, four, five.)

When we spoke last October, Gruber was in discussion with the ACLU. Last month, his images were used to illustrate the ACLU’s latest report ‘At America’s Expense: The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly‘ (Tim’s announcement.)

Of course, the common knowledge of the problems of incarcerating the elderly shaped our discussion. From the ACLU report:

Over the last 25 years, state corrections spending grew by 674%, substantially outpacing the growth of other government spending, and becoming the fourth-largest category of state spending. […] It costs $34,135 per year to house an average prisoner, but it costs $68,270 per year to house a prisoner age 50 and older. to put that number into context, the average American household makes about $40,000 a year in income.

In 1981, there were 8,853 state and federal prisoners age 55 and older. today, that number stands at 124,900, and experts project that by 2030 this number will be over 400,000, amounting to over one-third of prisoners in the United states. in other words, the elderly prison population is expected to increase by 4,400% over this fifty-year time span. this astronomical projection does not even include prisoners ages 50-54, for which data over time is harder to access.

The U.S. keeps elderly men and women locked up despite an abundance of evidence demonstrating that recidivism drops dramatically with age. For example, in new York, only 7% of prisoners released from prison at ages 50-64 returned to prison for new convictions within three years. that number drops to 4% for prisoners age 65 and older.

But, also, Tim and I talked about the emotions and first-hand experiences statistics don’t capture – the need for alternative imagery of prisoners and their humanity; what it was like to work on the wings, sit with the men and witness death (“Tears would overwhelm me”); compassionate release, prisoner-volunteer medical assistants and how Tim’s imagery may effect change.


Undocumented Mexican Immigrants, Tent City © Jon Lowenstein


Photographer and NOOR Images co-founder Jon Lowenstein has offered a print at the $1,000 level for the one lucky person who donates to my Kickstarter campaign, Prison Photography on the Road.

It’s an image from Sheriff Joe Arpaio infamous “Tent City” in Maricopa County Arizona. I’ve commented on this facility before (here and here) and across the political spectrum this facility has been questioned or condemned as deplorable. Here’s my best round of information on immigration prisons.

As early as 1997, Amnesty International published a report on Arpaio’s jails which found that Tent City is “not an adequate or humane alternative to housing inmates in suitable . . . jail facilities.” And as recently as 2009, Tent City has been criticized by groups contending that there are violations of human and constitutional rights.

Photographer: Jon Lowenstein.
Title: Undocumented Mexican Immigrants – Tent City.
Year: 2009.
Print: 11″x 14″ coloor print, on Hannemuehle archival paper.

Print, PLUS, self-published book, postcard and mixtape. – $1,000 – BUY NOW

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Bag News Salon : Jon Lowenstein’s Haiti

Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography Jon Lowenstein, September, 2007


Lowenstein specializes in long-term, in-depth, documentary photographic projects which question the status quo. He believes in documentary photojournalism’s ability to affect social change. He studied at the Universidad del Pais Vasco San Sebastian, Spain, and is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Columbia College. He was a staff photographer at newspapers including The Arizona Republic.

In December 1999, Lowenstein was chosen as one of eight staff photographers for the CITY 2000 (Chicago In The Year 2000) project. For more than three years, Lowenstein taught photography to middle-school students at Paul Revere Elementary School and helps publish Our Streets, a community newspaper documenting the nearby South Side Chicago community.

Lowenstein is a 2011 TED Global Fellow.

In 2011, he got awarded a John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in the field of Photography. In 2008 he was named the Joseph P. Albright Fellow by the Alicia Patterson Foundation and also won a 2007 Getty Images Grants for Editorial Photography. He also won a 2007 World Press Award and was named as a USC Annenberg Institute for Justice and Journalism Racial Justice Fellowship.  He won the 2005 NPPA New America Award, a 2004 World Press photo prize, 2003 Nikon Sabbatical Grant, the 58th National Press Photographer’s Pictures of the Year Magazine Photographer of the Year Award and Fuji Community Awareness Award. He participated in the Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls Exhibitions from 2002 through 2005.


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