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Supermax Prisons: Views from Above

Christoph Gielen
Creative Time Reviews

For this dispatch, Christoph Gielen shares a preview of images and text from his forthcoming “American Prison Perspectives” series. Since 2010, Gielen has used photography to confront the rapid construction of new high-tech prisons, part of a nationwide progression toward increased-security prison systems.

The prison business is booming: Recognizing prisons as a growth industry, financial magazines like Barron’s have urged investors to consider buying shares of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest owner and operator of private prisons in the U.S.

With support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, Gielen teamed up with the Canadian cultural historian Michael Prokopow to report on how Supermax prisons are designed. For his series, Gielen combines the stated objectives of prison architects with firsthand accounts of solitary confinement and the perspectives of mental health experts on the effects of isolation. In doing so, he provides a rare glimpse into the dry “science” of building maximum-security prisons.

In 2014, Gielen will launch a website entirely devoted to the “American Prison Perspectives” series. In addition to the photographs, the site will host an online forum in the hope of engaging regularly with the general public.

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Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue