Philip Jones Griffith On U.S. Prisons and Money

Prison Photography


In 1986, Philip Jones Griffith went to a Virginia prison, made the above image and wrote the following caption:

“The American justice system directs attention away from corporate crime. A deluge of trivia about murder and mayhem is provided, sending the message that everyone is wallowing in original sin and that deliverance can only come from a strong police force. The economically deprived, mostly blacks, who turn to crime are incarcerated in ever-increasing numbers.”

This caption could have been written yesterday, especially given the recent news about Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling worming his way to a reduced sentence and the persistence of “Debtor’s Prisons” across Ohio and other states.

What Jones Griffith didn’t witness in 1986 was the profiteering arm of the corrections industry that was about to emerge. The private prison system is bigger business than ever. VICE  tells us who’s getting rich.

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