A Haunting Look At The Inmates Who Grow Old In Prison

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This post originally appeared on National Geographic .

PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSICA EARNSHAW Albert, 82, is the oldest and longest serving inmate in Maine State Prison. He grew up in foster care and has been in and out of prison since he was 16. “If I missed something in life at 3 years old I had to take it, ” he says. “If I required meat I had to take it. If I wanted a booze of irrigate I had to take it. It wasn’t given to me, you know.”

Seeing human beings behind heavy doors and tables, in person, is a strange thought and difficult to grasp. It constituted me recollect a lot about the opening up of prison and the isolating consequences on parties when you cut them off from society.

According to Human Rights Watch , the number of parties 55 and older serving time in federal and regime prisons has tripled since 2007. The majority of the individuals who make up the aging prisoner prison person are incarcerated for violent crimes. As a society our general outlook is that people who dedicate 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.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSICA EARNSHAW Robert, 70, searches out his cell space. He has expended roughly 30 years imprisonment after being convicted of slaughter. In his free time, Robert mentors younger prisoners who have come in with drug addictions, something he’s very passionate about.

When I embarked contacting prisons throughout the country, Maine State Prison was the first to grant me access. Embarking in December 2015 and through the spring of 2016, I invested six full periods photographing in the men’s prison and three full daytimes in the women’s prison. My dates began at 6 a.m. and intent when my subjects were locked in for weigh at around 7 p. m.

I simply understood prison in an abstract space before going inside. I had expended months experimenting the topic and knew the facts, but it didn’t eliminate my horror before I walked in for the first time. But when deputy guardian Michael Tausek inserted my first three subjects–Steven, Robert, and Albert–my dread dissipated.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSICA EARNSHAW At Maine Correctional Center, Norma, 76, does her bunk in what used to be a closet. Norma requested that she be separated from the younger female prisoners, who, she says, are too loud and leave her feeling. A fellow inmate induced the covering for her.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSICA EARNSHAW Norma cleans her teeth after breakfast.

Steven, who was working in Manufactures cooking one of the machines when I came by, shook my hands and saluted me gently. Tausek had told me that Steven was shy. Robert, a towering soldier with a big white-hot beard, was sitting in his cell. He shook my hand and seemed immediately into my attentions as he told me he was “looking forward to being shadowed.” Albert pedaled over to me in his wheelchair, shook my hand, and asked me in a thick-skulled Maine accent if I had introduced him an Italian sub. I answered no, and he cackled mischievously.

I wanted to be a fly on the wall photographically and shadow my topics throughout their day. It turned out to be relatively easy because this aging person has missed so many of the major technological developments in media creation and the mode we suffer report; they had no bookings or self-awareness about being photographed.

Aging Inmates

Aging Inmates

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