The Stunning Geography of Incarceration

There are 5,393 carceral facilities in the United States, places where people are held in local jails, state prisons, federal corrections facilities, immigration detention centers – “anywhere where an individual can be sort of confined and locked up,” explains Josh Begley, “and, in some of the bigger instances, warehoused in one place.”

Begley is a master’s student in the Interactive Telecommunications program at New York University. He wanted to graphically represent what all of this means, to communicate not just the sheer quantity of prisons in America (a number that has been booming for decades), but their volume on our landscape. As part of a class project, he created the oddly beautiful websitePrison Map, which offers a mashed-up birds-eye view of all of these places, taken from Google Satellite images.

“A lot of times we’ll just use numbers to talk about this idea of mass incarceration,” Begley says, “and I thought that there maybe was something powerful about using no numbers, no words and just having the images.”

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    Click through and read the article - it’s… interesting, to say the least.
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