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Strangeways, Manchester, UK. April 1990. Credit: Manchester Evening News

UK PRISONER VOTING RIGHTS

Brendan O’Friel, the governor in charge of Strangeways during 25 days of famous unrest beginning April 1st, 1990 has backed moves to give UK prisoners the vote.

O’Friel says the controversy is being deliberately stirred up for political reasons. He told the Manchester Evening News:

“I think it is a totally sensible thing to give prisoners the right to vote and then encourage them to vote. Whatever those people have done it is a question of trying to make sure that they are going to make a contribution to the community rather than being a drain on it. Anything we can do to encourage them to take responsibility and think positively is a very good thing.”

O’Friel’s view is not the concensus in the UK. In November 2010, The European Court of Human Rights ruled that denying the vote to prisoners was a violation of their human rights.

However, in early February the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to reject any lifting of the ban, opposing the move by 234 to 22. By doing so they face a class-action lawsuit which could cost the British taxpayer millions in damages for as long as the government denies prisoners their vote.

The ridiculous thing about this is that the figures (approximately 90,000) would barely effect election results. This is expensive folly by Britain’s politicians.

The UK prisoner voting ban has been in place since 1870.

For comparison, The Telegraph reports:

“Many developed countries have some form of prisoner voting including 28 other European nations such as France, Germany and Italy. Russia and Japan exclude all convicted prisoners. Just two states in America allow it while others do not even give the vote back when inmates leave prison. Prisoners can vote in two of seven states in Australia.”

PRISONER VOTING IN AMERICA

In 2010, judges in Washington State found that felon disenfranchisement laws unfairly impacted minorities as they were more likely to be subject to racial inequalities in the application of policing procedure.

From the ever-excellent Prison Law Blog:

“On Sept. 21, the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in Farrakhan v. Gregoire, an important case that could affect the voting rights of prisoners in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, Hawaii, and Arizona. Back in January, a split Ninth Circuit panel ruled that, in Washington State, “minorities are more likely than whites to be searched, arrested, detained, and ultimately prosecuted,” and that, because “some people becom[e] felons not just because they have committed a crime, but because of their race, then that felon status cannot, under section 2 of the [Voting Rights Act], disqualify felons from voting.”

Washington State appealed and the discussion is likely to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s about time both Britain and the U.S. move into the 21st Century. From the Sentencing Law and Policy blog:

“According to a report co-published by Human Rights Watch and The Sentencing Project, a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system, disenfranchisement laws are “a vestige of medieval times when offenders were banished from the community and suffered ‘civil death.’  Brought from Europe to the colonies, these laws gained new political salience at the end the nineteenth century when disgruntled whites in a number of Southern states adopted them and other ostensibly race-neutral voting restrictions in an effort to exclude blacks from the vote.”

For more on prisoner and ex-prisoner disenfranchisement, read Michelle Alexander. She condenses the arguments of her very successful book, The New Jim Crow, here.

STRANGEWAYS ON PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY

Strangeways, 20th Anniversary

Ged Murray at Strangeways

Strangeways Riot and Don McPhee

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(M.E.N. story found via Jailhouse Lawyer)

Last November, I delivered a lecture entitled Photography and Haiti’s Prisons in the Aftermath of the Earthquake. (Listen here, prep here.)

The lecture was more about how scant photographic evidence compounded the scare-mongering in written media following the escape of over 4,000 prisoners from Haiti’s National Penitentiary, Port-au-Prince.

I also paid tribute to The New York Times for their tenacious investigation of a prison massacre cover-up at Les Cayes Prison, 100 miles west of Port-au-Prince.

I encouraged students to have both critical stances on these contested and emotional narratives, but also keep a look out for media follow ups to the situation in Haiti regarding prison conditions, the reconstruction of the justice/prison system, and policing in the capitol.

Today Bite Magazine! published a 10 image essay by Boots Levinson of the ongoing “round-up” of prisoners.

Prior to the earthquake, Haiti’s prisons were renowned for corruption. Levinson’s images show us policing activities but they do not answer whether these prisoners were guilty of a serious crime in the first place.

#PICBOD

So successful was Jonathan Worth’s Photography & Narrative (#PHONAR) course, that Coventry University has decided to repeat the open and free, web-based format once-more. Classes are already underway for the Picturing the Body (#PICBOD) course. I am pleased to say I shall be involved again. More on that later.

Visit the site #PICBOD website.

“If life is art and art is life, an arts center must breathe.”

Brendan Seibel for Vingt profiles FACE French/American Creative Exchange, collective in the depressed northern reaches of Paris, set up by Monte Laster, an immigrant from Texas. The project’s centerpiece is the transcendence of the individual above the proscribed traps of generalization:

“A far-reaching social experiment threading together disparate populations is set to commence. Prisoners will join their wardens, expectant mothers will join school children, rappers will join poets, all in an effort to examine how environmental conditions reflect people’s expression.”

What I like most about FACE isn’t just that it’s community arts, but that prisons are considered as a matter of course part of the community. That’s a refreshing alternative to prevailing attitudes elsewhere which think of prisons as dumping grounds; sites to be ignored, buried, distanced.

Claude Hankins

Thomas Gordon

Without question, the mugshot is a dominant “genre” in American photography. Least Wanted, aka Mark Michaelson, has released a book of his collected mugshots, Danny Lyon is fascinated by them, I’ve been seduced from time to time.

Arne Svenson is another artist who has put together mugshots (this time from the 19th century) to make a book. Svenson is a portraitist and his art is more complex when his collected mugshots and his headshots of forensic dummies & sock monkeys are considered alongside one another.

PRISONERS

“Svenson’s first book entitled Prisoners came about after the discovery of a collection of turn of the century glass plate negatives from Northern California recording convicted criminals as classic frontal and profile mug shots. He lovingly printed these negatives, bringing the subjects alive, and painstakingly researched each of their stories.” (Source)

Elliott Peterson

W.M. Heron

FORENSIC DUMMIES

Svenson spent four years traveling around the country to coroner’s offices and law enforcement agencies photographing forensic identification aids in a classic portraiture style. Twin Palms Publications will publish a book of this work, entitled Unspeaking Likeness, in 2010.

© Arne Svenson

SOCK MONKEYS

Unsurprisingly, the public and the market love Svenson’s 200 Sock Monkey portraits.

Sock Monkey #1761, 2001, Gelatin Silver Print. © Arne Svenson

See more at Jan Kesner Gallery

Christmas tree at the District Jail, Washington, D.C. and some of the prisoners (circa 1909-1932). National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. # LOT 12342-9

Christmas tree at the District Jail, Washington, D.C. and some of the prisoners (circa 1909-1932). National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress. # LOT 12342-9

Untitled (from Lockdown)

Dread Scott‘s 2004 Lockdown pairs portraits with audio statements from the prisoners. The stories intend to represent the two million-plus inmates in American prisons. Dread’s belief is that America is defined by its criminal justice system and its incarcerated masses. This is not a position I would query.

Ostensibly, Lockdown is a less confrontational work than his renowned What is the Proper Way to Display the U.S. Flag? (1988) but the strength of the polemic, from which it stems, is no less.

Dread has drawn strong support as well as well-publicised contempt for his art and politics. Even the most respected progressive voices in politics, theory and photography have paused to question the coherence of his work. Dread, I trust, would expect no less than strong reaction to his work.

Among other identifiers, Dread is an avowed Maoist. He has stated, “This is a world where a tiny handful controls the great wealth and knowledge humanity as a whole has created.” In America more than any other ‘developed’ nation this statement applies. Dread’s political statement must be taken as delivered and used as the departure point for this work.

For our interview, I wanted to focus on Dread’s efforts and successes in accessing prisons, drawing testimony and mounting the piece. And to find out why these efforts were necessary.

Q & A

PP: How many prisons/jails did you visit while making Lockdown?
DS: I visited one prison and I went to another where I was turned away at the last minute.  I also worked with some youth who had been in the system, but were not locked up at the time I photographed and interviewed them.  This is also true of one adult ex-con I worked with.

PP: How many portraits are in the series?
DS: There are eleven that I show.  Obviously I took more, but there are eleven that are good. I also would like to expand the project but I have no plans to do this at the moment.

PP: Did you choose the sitters or did they choose you?
DS: In most cases the prison chose them and told them that a photographer wanted to do a project involving prisoners.  Then once I met with them I discussed more about the project and most of them wanted to be part of it.

PP: Were there prisoners who were simply not eligible for participation in Lockdown? If so, for what reasons?
DS: I wanted to get a somewhat broad sampling of the prison population. In many respects this was achieved, but because I was unable to work on the project as extensively as I would have liked, some types of prisoners aren’t in the project.  For example, I didn’t get to any women’s facilities, any jails and I was not to visit any prisoners on Death Row.

PP: Did you ever photograph a prisoner having had no prior contact or discussion?
DS: Generally this is how the project was done – I would be introduced to them and photograph them in the same day.

PP: Who controlled the length of time you had to introduce your project to, and work with, each of the sitters?
DS: Ultimately, it was the prison that controlled the hours of the visit and how many I would be allowed.  But once that was set, I could spend as much or as little time with any one prisoner.

Untitled (from Lockdown)

PP: How did you organize yourself and your subjects during the projects as a whole? What forms did the communication take before, during and after the sitting for the photograph?
DS: With rare exception, I wasn’t able to communicate with the prisoners before the photography/interview session. The sessions were very intensive.  I generally wasn’t able to spend more than an hour with each prisoner.  Often I only had about 40 minutes so the work was done quickly.  I would start by discussing what I was trying to do with the project and let them know that I wasn’t working with the prison and in fact that I was a revolutionary and I felt that the whole system was worthless.  Which is not what the project was about but I wanted them to know where I was coming from.  If after knowing more about me and the project they wanted to participate, we would move forward.

Generally, I would then photograph them and then I would interview them, which in many ways was just a conversation. As a preface to the interview I would say something like “It’s clear that the main requirement to get into jail today is that you be poor and Black or Latino. Who is in jail? I need to learn your story and want to tell it. Many people don’t know. And those that do know, people like you and your family aren’t talking about it enough. I need the truth. What happened? How did you end up here? I want to put faces on the slaves of these prisons, which are like modern day slave ships that don’t float.” Then we did the interview. As for more communication after the session, unfortunately the prison that I was working with made this impossible. I sent photographs of all the prisoners to them and I wrote again thanking them for participating. I never heard back from anyone. What I later learned when I met one of the prisoners when he was on the outside, he said that neither he nor anyone else ever got any photo or letter from me.

PP: How do you deal with impartiality?
DS: I am not impartial. I think that this is an unjust society and has exploitation woven into it’s very fabric – a society where a tiny handful control the wealth and knowledge that humanity as a whole has created. The imprisonment of two million+ people shines a lot of light on the society as a whole. I wanted to bring to light the people that are latterly hidden from society broadly and make a work that presented portraits of these hidden people and brought of out the insights they have about the society that imprisons them. Because these people and there ideas are written out of the popular discourse in society, I think that this project can reveal a lot about the society as a whole. The prisoners express their individual views and don’t necessarily share all of mine, but through the work as a whole, an audience has the opportunity to grapple with a lot about the foundations of this society and see and meet people who have a lot to say about it.

PP: What reasons did each of the inmates have for taking part? Were their reasons opinions that you also held or had previously held?
DS: Many of the prisoners initially met me because it was a break from their daily routine. Some were intrigued by the change and chance to work with some sort of photographer. Most didn’t know much about the project prior to meeting me. But once they met me they mostly decided to participate because they wanted to have both their individual story put out in the world, but also they saw this as a chance to be part of a broader conversation about a country that imprisons over two million people. There was also a small minority who were looking for some angle to shorten their time or hoped I was a vehicle to communicate with people outside.

PP: Did you take many pictures of the same sitter? Did the inmates of each portrait have a say in which print you chose for exhibition?
DS: Yes, I generally took about 20 pictures of each person. Sometimes a few more and occasionally less. Because the prison prevented me from communicating with them, they weren’t able to have any input into the portrait that I used.

Installation

PP: James Clifford has said, “Represented voices can be powerful indices of a living people – more so even than photographs, which, however realistic and contemporary, always evoke a certain irreducible past tense.” How important to this piece are the audio tracks; the ‘represented voices’ of the inmates?
The audio is essential. It is as much part of the project as the photographs and I will not exhibit the work without the audio.  One thing that I wanted to do with Lockdown is bring the faces, voices and ideas of those who are hidden behind bars in the gallery and museum setting. People throughout society need to see who is imprisoned and know what insights they have in the world.  So there is an important level of the ideas. But there is also a question of voice. It is very specific and allows the audience to encounter the prisoners in a much more real and complex way.

PP: Did each inmate prepare a statement or do you edit audio in post-production from single unrehearsed dialogues?
DS: The audio is carefully edited from much longer interviews. The interviews typically were about 30-40 minutes. And the audio in the work uses about 3-6 minute excerpts.

PP: How do you describe the relationship between the collected raw data (first-hand spoken testimony; photographic documentation; a unique name/identity) and the cultural frame you set it in (gallery, public space, political statement)?
DS: The portraits and interviews form the basis for the work but the art, once it is exhibited is just that – art. The art would be inconceivable without the photos and interviews, but they have been selected & edited and assembled to be a coherent work of art.

PP: Does your artistic voice compete with the oral testimonies/voices of the men you photograph?
DS: While the testimonies of the individuals are important as an individual expressions, Lockdown is the opinionated view of its author. I am not mischaracterizing any of the individual stories, but I have put them within the overall meditation on a society that imprisons over two million people that is Lockdown. So my voice dominates on a certain level.  The work is really the collective voices and photograph, not the individual stories. It is made up of individuals, but I think that the whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts.  It is because of this, the way the work is structured overall, that it is not a “documentary” where one person’s story is next to their photograph and it is about all of the individuals. It is about what they, through the work as a whole, address as a group.

PP: About your work, you have said, “the continuum of history is a recurring theme in many of my works” and therefore inviting comparisons between past and present events. Do you use artistic devices, photographic or otherwise, to assist the viewers with these comparisons?
DS: Yes, but I don’t see the continuum of history as being so foregrounded in this work. Some of my projects will have a lynching paired with police brutality or an electric chair. This isn’t so much the case with this work. Though I did decide to make the portraits black and white which roots somewhat in the past and situates the theme of the work as being tied to a longer history as well as roots the project in a certain photographic tradition.

PP: Are you following a photographic tradition? If so, which elements of past photographic works inform Lockdown. If not, where then should people find their visual cues for reading the photographs?
DS: In making this work, I really appreciated Danny Lyons’ Conversations with the Dead.  My project is different but it is on this continuum. Also, Avedon’s In the American West. Again, I’m doing something different. I think Avedon is exoticizing his subjects a bit, but they are really great portraits and he does reveal things about the people he shoots that many outside of the culture don’t know about.  Meat packers and guys on oil rigs aren’t often part of Chelsea conversations.  Also, Roy DeCarava’s influenced this work. Particularly how he respected many of the people he photographed.  As the project is not just a photo project, I drew on other artistic traditions. Actually the text and image work from the 80s has informed me on works like this. I just use audio text rather than written. What I am doing is new, but it wouldn’t exist without these influences.

_______________________________________________________________

Dread Scott works in a range of media including installation, photography, screen printing, video and performance. Dread first received national attention as a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1989, President Bush Sr. declared his installation What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag? “disgraceful,” and the entire US Senate denounced the work when they passed legislation to “protect the flag.” As part of the popular effort opposing compulsory patriotism, he, along with three other protesters, burned flags on the steps of the US Capitol. This resulted in a Supreme Court case and a landmark decision.

In 1992, Dread was a fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program. In 1995, he was awarded a Mid Atlantic\National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowship in Photography. In 2000, he participated in the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue directed by Anna Deavere Smith at Harvard University. He has been awarded a Mid Atlantic/NEA Regional Fellowship in Photography, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture (2001) and Fellowship in Performance Art/Multi-disciplinary Art (2005), and a Creative Capital Foundation grant. In 2000 he participated in the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue directed by Anna Deavere Smith at Harvard University. That year he also worked on a Special Edition Fellowship at the Lower East Side Printshop.

His work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Robert Miller Gallery in New York, Brooklyn Museum, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and the DeBeyerd Center for Contemporary Art in the Netherlands. His public sculptures have been installed at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York and Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota.

In 2008, the Museum of Contemporary African Disporan Art in Brooklyn, NY hosted Dread Scott: Welcome to America.

This interview provides more extensive coverage of Dread Scott’s oeuvre and politics.

© Patricia Aridjis

"Karla Liliana" 2005. Women's Prison "Reclusorio Oriente", Mexico City. © Patricia Aridjis

Patricia Aridjis spent over seven years on The Black Hours Project. She documented incarcerated women in the Mexican penitentiaries of Santa Martha Acatitla, Tepepan, “Reclusorio Norte & Oriente” and Michoacan Prison in Mexico City.

It is not only the photographs that Aridjis uses to tell the women’s stories with familiarity and sensitivity. Aridjis also compiled a video archive and a correspondence archive; I urge you to listen, read and pause.

I contacted Patricia and she generously gave permission to publish works from The Black Hours. It gives me great pleasure to do so, as her motivation bear striking similarity to a core principle of Prison Photography; to present imagery that jolts viewers into reassessments about prisons and the lives and stories therein.

Aridjis has been described as one of the photojournalists most committed to social issues in Mexico. It has also been explained that this project was a point of revelation in her career; Aridjis [coming to] understand prisons as only reflections of outside society:

The female penitentiary is more than a place where society hide its errors and cleans its faults; inside there are hundreds of stories of abandonment, abuse and even love.

Exhibition Board, Nacho Lopez Hall, INAH National Photographic Library

Aridjis’ photographic philosophy is clear, “To Make Visible, the Invisible”. Mexico’s penal system exerts control over what can and can’t be seen mimicking the practices of parts of the American penal system.

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

Photographers Statement

To do this photo essay I thought about being for long hours inside some women’s prisons in Mexico City. I considered that that was the only way to capture the feelings that go around the cells and corridors of these places. Loneliness, lesbianism as a way of satisfying affective needs; self punishment and suicide attempts are like gaping wounds in the wrists that cry for help. Drugs to escape reality, maternity, solidarity. Life is limited by watching towers, guards, gates and schedules. The black hours. My commitment found its exact words when I took an inmate’s picture in her cell. She asked me to be photographed because that was to be her only way out of there.

Patricia Aridjis, Mexico 2004

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

"Mario (Maria) and Eli" 2000. Tepepan Women's Prison, México City. © Patricia Aridjis

"Mario (Maria) and Eli" 2000. Tepepan Women's Prison, México City. © Patricia Aridjis

Where is Jail?

“What would you do if I mugged you?” Natalia asked mischievously.

“You wouldn’t.” I answered. When Juan Carlos the inmate’s five-year old son over heard us he screamed, “Don’t do it mom! Don’t! Or you’ll end up in jail!”

“Jail does not exist.” she said after a brief silence.

“Where is jail?” I asked the boy who was inside his mother’s cell. “Outside, where the policemen are” he answered, pointing out to the window.

Talking with Natalia & Juan Carlos
Womens Prison, Tepepan, Mexico City, 2002.

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

Time

To enter you have to walk through a long tunnel which leads to an almost completely feminine world, a world with no living colors, but beige and navy blue of the uniforms.

“I have been here seven years, four months and two weeks.” Exact, endless counting. Time that passes slowly and suddenly has turned into years ‘the black hours’.

Visitors are special; they are a breath of fresh air, freedom that comes from the outside.

"Cereso", 2004. Mil Cumbres, Prison Michoacan, Mexico. © Patricia Aridjis

"Cereso", 2004. Mil Cumbres, Prison Michoacan, Mexico. © Patricia Aridjis

Children

Some children have been born inside and their eyes have not seen any other light than the one that passes though the bars, especially those that have no one to take care of them. If such is the case they remain under the custody of government institutions until the legal system says otherwise.

“Dulce, Why are you in for?”
“Drugs.”
“How many years did they give you?”
“Ten.”
“Where did they get you?”
“At the airport.”
“How much did you have on you?”
“Two kilos.”
“What is your cause?” [sic]
“My mom… Maria.”

These are the words that Dulce, a four year-old girl memorized. She was born during her mother’s conviction.

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

Objects, People, Spaces

Objects acquire a different value once they pass through the gate. Either because they are not allowed, such as scissors, perfumes in glass bottles, mirrors, or because they are outrageously expensive, like soap, deodorant or toilet paper. A phone card is like gold; the telephone is one of the few ways to keep in touch with the outside world. Family visits are another, but it is common that their partners or even their closest relatives abandon the inmates.

Beds have to be earned. Each cell houses about 15 inmates and is no more than 9 square meters. There are people sleeping on the floor and under the beds. As they leave, the ones that have been there longer get the beds. Other way to obtain this privilege is to buy it from someone who has been there more time.

© Patricia Aridjis

© Patricia Aridjis

Love in the Time of Jail

Silvia and Claudia met in prison, they fell in love. They have loved each other night and day … intimacy is a very public thing in prison. Silivia did her time, soon after the relationship began. She could not bear to be free without Claudia – the love of her life – and planned a simulated burglary. She asked a friend to press charges so that she could be in prison again, and together again with Claudia.

"Silvia and Claudia" 2004. Women's Prison, "Reclusorio Oriente", Mexico City. © Patricia Aridjis

"Silvia and Claudia" 2004. Women's Prison, "Reclusorio Oriente", Mexico City. © Patricia Aridjis

Biography

In 2006, Aridjis obtained the sponsorship of Revelaa Spanish organization which supports social justice photography. In 2002, she received a Grant for the Encouragement of Cultural Projects from FONCA (National Fund for Culture and Arts). That same year she won 1st place in the Anthropological Photography Contest awarded by the National School of History and Anthropology. In 2001, she received 1st place in the 5th Biennale of photojournalism. In 1994, Aridjis obtained a Grant for Young Creators (FONCA). She has been part of over sixty group & solo exhibitions.

Aridjis has recently been praised for her project The Sickness Behind Every Flower, which examines the use and toxic side effects of pesticides in agriculture.

If an individual and the law don’t agree to the point the individual is imprisoned, one hopes lawful imprisonment changes the individual, right? For the better, right?

Unfortunately, American prisons have proved the opposite of rehabilitative or hopeful of positive change. Recidivism rates in America are between 60% and 68% (depending on the source).

"Prison has changed you, Mom" © 2009 Marshall for the New Yorker

"Prison has changed you, Mom" © 2009 Marshall for the New Yorker

Spurred possibly by the fiscal-driven prisoner releases across the nation, Marshall penciled this pearl.

Some of the best comedy is simultaneously tragedy. The truth is America’s prison archipelago has bruised the lives of the current 2.2 million prison population, the lives of family members AND our lives and communities. Inmates returning to society haven’t been suitably prepared or shown new paths. Change has been for the worse in majority of cases.

I was astonished to read this AlertNet article. It excavates the background to Lovelle Mixon’s massacre in Oakland that killed four people.

I cannot agree with the article’s logic 100%. It would be a sad day if I ever presumed the individual totally powerless and unable to act upon non-violent decisions, but as the author writes:

“Though Mixon’s killing spree is a horrible aberration, his plight as an unemployed ex-felon isn’t. There are tens of thousands like him on America’s streets. In 2007, the National Institute of Justice found that 60 percent of ex-felon offenders remain unemployed a year after their release.”

It is not easy to resist the urge to think of mass-murderous crimes as the singular actions of an individual.

I appreciate Earl Ofari Hutchinson‘s article because it brings together the many invisible and minor trials in life that collectively make daily stress unbearable. I finished the article amazed that there are fewer desperate crimes akin to Mixon’s. An uncomfortable thought.

Again, Hutchinson reminds us that the problems of incarceration, recidivism, education, unemployment and crime are inseparable:

Washington, D.C. is a near textbook example of that. Nearly 3,000 former prisoners are released and return to the district each year. Most fit the standard ex-felon profile. They are poor, with limited education and job skills, and come from broken or dysfunctional homes. Researchers again found that the single biggest factor that pushed them back to the streets, crime, violence and, inevitably, repeat incarceration was their failure to find work.

Q. Why do we warehouse people, break them, and then return them to society in a poorer position to cope?

A. Punitive and immovable laws, collective arrogance & utter denial.

With an estimated 600,000 prisoners either released or due for release in 2009, it’s about time we make a small change in our accomodations – especially given the size of change we expect of former prisoners.

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