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Hansen, Bettina

The Seattle Times reports some enlightened thinking at the WA DOC:

Washington state is at the forefront of a national re-examination. Instead of facing nothing but forced solitude, Washington inmates in solitary units — called Intensive Management Units, or IMUs — are increasingly being let out for hours to attend classes, see counselors or hit the gym.

It is a clear move to the left in prison management, but one that Washington prison managers say is rooted in data. More emphasis on rehabilitation appears to calm behavior in the prison, and cuts violent recidivism on the streets, experts say. It is also a cost-saver: Solitary confinement costs about three times as much as keeping a prisoner in general custody.

Let us hope other states follow the example.

Photo by Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times. Caption: Earnest Collins says he’s open to change after fights twice landed him in the Intensive Management Unit at Clallam Bay. “If you’re not mentally strong, it’ll drive you crazy,” said Collins. “You hear a lot of crazy things in IMU.”

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglas

Mandi and Gabriel

Mandi and Gabriel (3 days old), 2008 © Cheryl Hanna-Truscott

Cheryl Hanna-Truscott is a registered nurse and midwife who attests to the importance of healthy, timely infant-mother attachment. Equally she recognises that the women in her portraits are the beneficiaries of an unfortunately rare approach to motherhood in US sites of incarceration.

Protective Custody: Within a Prison Nursery is a portrait series about pregnant inmates who qualify for The Residential Parenting Program, at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW). The program began in 1999 allowing selected pregnant inmates with sentences less than thirty months to maintain custody of their babies after giving birth.


I was reminded of Hanna-Truscott’s work today with its inclusion in 100Eyes newest issue Dependence.

prison nursery 3

This week, Metafilter – among others – threw a stats-bomb at my wordpress account. The lure? Uncredited, amateur, pinhole photographs. No name … no logo.


The photography was by Girls in the Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center, Tacoma, WA during a 2002 Steve Davis arts workshop.

These pictures really struck a chord. I am left to wonder what sort of interpretations are being made by viewers?

One thing I know is that a big CV, a big camera and fancy digijournalist turns may not be enough to secure soul-grabbing images. In fact, I’d argue it probably isn’t possible to compete with those nameless girls of Remann Hall.

Remann Hall girls 2002.  Image created with pinhole camera in a Steve Davis workshop

Remann Hall girls 2002. Image created as part of a Steve Davis workshop. Pinhole camera.

Please contact Steve Davis for inquiries about image use and reproduction.


prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com


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