Have Prisons Become The Mass Housing Of Our Time?

Via Creative Time Reports, aerial photographer Christoph Gielen on prisons as the new housing boom:

Since 1980, when the U.S. prison population began to increase dramatically, Americans have been living in an era of mass incarceration, which Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has called one of the “greatest social experiments of our time.” The Spatial Information Design Lab, a think- and action-tank at Columbia University, goes so far as asking, “have prisons and jails become the mass housing of our time?”

I want to illustrate how prison design and architecture do in fact reflect political discourse, economic priorities, cultural sentiments and social insecurities, and how, in turn, these constructed environments also become statements about a society.

The opportunity to visually examine these restricted locations is significant; while some (low-resolution) satellite images of prison complexes are available in the public domain, the public cannot inspect Supermax facilities on the ground. Even journalists may be barred from entering, and almost certainly from taking photos on-site, due to security measures in place since September 11, 2001, which often require background checks and security screening.

I am particularly excited about recent related discussions from within the architectural sector. Specifically Canadian architect Raphael Sperry, the first architect to receive the Justice Initiative Fellow grant by Open Society Foundations, announced his campaign to amend the American Institute of Architects’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to “prohibit the design of spaces intended for long-term solitary isolation and execution.”

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  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    It has definately become mass housing for Balck Americans, that’s for sure!
    Jim Crow by another name. :(

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    It has definately become mass housing for Balck Americans, that’s for sure!
    Jim Crow by another name. :(

    • BuzzCoastin

      a far back I as I can check
      Black has been the primary skin color of American prisoners (aka: slaves)
      imprisoning Blacks serves two purposes
      it’s keeps the Darkies in their place
      and it keeps the Whites afraid of going to prison

      Der Homeland not only has the most people in prison
      per capita & gross numbers
      it also has the most minorities in prison
      per capita & gross numbers
      which is why they are compelled to call it
      The Homeland of the Free

  • Anarchy Pony

    Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

  • BuzzCoastin

    unless you leave the Homeland for long periods of time
    and live in another country for more than a week
    you’ll never know your in a prison already
    and maybe it’s better that way

  • BuzzCoastin

    unless you leave the Homeland for long periods of time
    and live in another country for more than a week
    you’ll never know your in a prison already
    and maybe it’s better that way

    • InfvoCuernos

      Buzz, I wish I could argue with you on that, but I am sad to say you are right on the money there. I dodge the Law whenever I can, but still I pay and pay and am constantly forced to do what I am told despite my attempts to remain free, and the noose just gets tighter, the more I fight.

    • InfvoCuernos

      Buzz, I wish I could argue with you on that, but I am sad to say you are right on the money there. I dodge the Law whenever I can, but still I pay and pay and am constantly forced to do what I am told despite my attempts to remain free, and the noose just gets tighter, the more I fight.

      • lazy_friend

        Boiling frogs.

      • BuzzCoastin

        my experience is
        I am much more free as an American outside of America
        ’cause everyone outside America know America is the Land of the Free
        and they treat you accordingly

        • Juan

          I have to agree that you are certainly freer outside of the US. That has certainly been my experience. At least I felt freer, and really just more respected as a human being. But, I don’t think it is because you are “from the land of the free and they treat you accordingly.” That just seems sily. I think it is because the places I’ve been we’re just less oppressive and the people are less damaged, or perhaps damaged in a different way than people in the US.

          • BuzzCoastin

            maybe we had different experiences in different places
            but in Asia in general the blue passport rules
            because
            it’s the most powerful country on earth
            the richest nation in the world
            they all know Americas streets are paved with gold
            and we tell our politicians what’s what
            this misconception is probably due to
            the lack of Americans traveling in Asia
            however I found lots of Canadians, Ozzies & EUz
            & unless I go to Expat hangouts in China,
            I neva see Homelanders

    • lazy_friend

      Yeah I also have to agree. To free yourself from one type of prison here, you have to jump into another.

      • BuzzCoastin

        based upon your comment
        I assume you have no first hand experience
        because
        as an expat visitor to almost any country, as an American
        you have way more freedom than you would have in America
        but you’d never know that without having the experience

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    Some time in the 19th century, There was a Prison colony on Andaman Island and a bunch of the Natives (one of the most primitive people groups on the globe) attacked it and tried to set the prisoners free.

    I think that is a good picture of what is wrong with this country. Western Civilization in general and the US in particular.If we were more in touch with nature we would see it right off.

  • Coyote Prophet

    Simple answer is “YES”.

  • Coyote Prophet

    Simple answer is “YES”.

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