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Project May 19, 2021

When I Come Home: Elder Incarceration During the Pandemic

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Due to the popularization over the past few decades of "tough on crime" politics and mandatory minimum sentences, the US has one of the largest, and oldest prison populations in the world. Statistically people in 50's or over, even those convicted of violent crimes, have incredibly low chances of recidivism, but the culture of our justice system makes parole sometimes nearly impossible, and routinely slaps multi decade sentences on people for bad choices made in their youth. As a result we have a uniquely vulnerable population in prisons across the country, who are also often affected by high risk health conditions, many of whom despite their advanced age still have years on their sentences.

These elderly inmates families are desperate for their release as the illness spreads. Through portraits of their families, correspondence, and photo-reportage elements, this project will create a series of images and stories of elderly prisoners, who are far from what many Americans imagine when they think of who is in prison, and who’s stories are urgent as Covid closes in and prisoners continue to sound the alarm about lack of necessary PPE, social distancing, and health care.

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