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Reflection 4/16

Ang's picture

Oops! Forgot to post yesterday, sorry. I even had something really exciting and interesting I had planned to write about...

This weekend I went to the Eastern State Penitentiary because my best friend was visiting and is really interested in anything that has a history or reputation of being haunted. Until this weekend, the only time I'd been at Eastern State was for their annual Halloween Haunted House.

Admission included access to the grounds and the majority of the cellblocks, as well as an mp3 player for an audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi. I had never done any research of any sort on Eastern State, so I really wasn't even sure why it was such a big tourist site. Turns out, the Eastern State Penitentiary wasn't only hugely impactful in the history of prisons in the US because of its size, but because it revolutionized prison and punishment with its system of complete solitary imprisonment. The visit was definitely worth it, and I wish I had gone on a non-Halloween visit sooner. I was especially pleased at the end when we found that they had an exhibit on modern mass incarceration. 

There was a large 3D graph in the courtyard outside the exhibit. It started by showing the rise of incarceration rates in the US over the last few decades, then, once you turn the corner the slim end of the graph, a comparison graph of incarceration rates of the US and a large number of other countries, as well as a division between countries that use capital punishment or not. Around the corner again, on the back side of the graph, was another graph that showed the percentages of incarcerated races between 2010 and 1970. 

While in the exhibit, I found a graphic novel among other books such as a children's book on "what to do when a loved one goes to prison" and photography collections of prisoners. The graphic novel, titled Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling, is written by Marc Mauer, is, as the title implies, a graphic retelling of the expansion of prisons over the last three decades in the United States. In the opening pages, I found a foreword by Michelle Alexander, who, as we know, wrote The New Jim Crow. I ordered a copy of the book on Amazon yesterday and will hopefully get it Wednesday, or sooner.