Visualizing prisons in the United States

We have all read articles about incarceration rates in the U.S. (5% of the world’s population, 25% of its prison population).The ACLU has put together an amazing graphic illustrating the dimension of the problem.

Josh Begley, a graduate student at NYU trying to grapple with this issue captured aerial images for the 4,916 prisons and jails in the U.S. You can view 700 of these images at Prison Map. He also provides a link for those wanting to view his entire database.

One of the 700 images contained in Prison Map

I will close this post by mentioning two recent disturbing articles that highlight two dimensions of the U.S.’s prison dilemma. We are now spending $16 billion annually incarcerating prisoners aged 55+. The privatization of prisons has led to one company offering to purchase public prisons so long as the state guarantees a 90% occupancy rate for 20 years.

As I scanned the hundreds of images of prisons on Begley’s website, all I could think was “there must be a better way”.


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