Look into Their Eyes: Photos and Commentary on Elderly People in Prison
Date:  08-24-2016

Keeping geriatric people locked up is costly and usually unnecessary
From National Geographic

Seeing human beings behind heavy doors and bars, in person, is a weird thing and difficult to digest. It made me think a lot about the institution of prison and the isolating effects on people when you cut them off from society. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of people 55 and older serving time in federal and state prisons has tripled since 2007. The majority of those who make up the aging inmate prison population are incarcerated for violent crimes. As a society our general outlook is that people who commit violent crimes are dangerous—but after 30-plus years, are they? I wanted to understand who these people were 30 years ago and who they are now.

When I began contacting prisons across the country, Maine State Prison was the first to grant me access. Beginning in December 2015 and through the spring of 2016, I spent six full days photographing in the men’s prison and three full days in the women’s prison. My days began at 6 a.m. and ended when my subjects were locked in for count at around 7 p.m.

I only understood prison in an abstract way before going inside. I had spent months researching the topic and knew the facts, but it didn't eliminate my fear before I walked in for the first time. But when deputy warden Michael Tausek introduced my first three subjects—Steven, Robert, and Albert—my fear dissipated. Read more.