Atlantic Cities article on Stephen Tourlentes’ prison photography

Lo duca e io per quel cammino ascoso
    intrammo a ritornar nel chiaro mondo;
    e sanza cura aver d’alcun riposo
salimmo su, el primo e io secondo,
    tanto ch’i’vidi delle cose belle
    che porta ‘l ciel, per un pertugio tondo;
e quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.
           (Inferno, Canto XXXIV)

A brief article by Mark Barnes on Stephen Tourlentes’ haunting photographs of prisons as seen from prison towns across the country. This sort of eerie glow will be familiar to many who have visited or grown up in any of the hundreds of prison towns created in the U.S. during the build-up to mass incarceration over the last 40 years.

Discussing these photos, my colleague Marlene Ramos reminded me of a quote from Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s Golden Gulag:

The remedy for cumulative negative impacts must be bigger and more compelling than a simple technocratic fix. A principled sense of mortal urgency gets grassroots activists to go to meetings, makes them board buses, and inspires hope. Perhaps this is what class politics should be, in contradiction to the Golden Gulag’s prison-lit but starless night.
(Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag, p. 251)


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