A bird’s eye view of our prisons

One of the stories we’re interested in telling during the Prison Time Media Project is about the rise of prison towns, and the massive build out of the correctional system across the country. For towns whose economies are deeply connected to the existence of a prison, those communities know where their prisons are. The town of Dannemora is possibly the most striking example of this in the country: most people there can see the Clinton-Dannemora prison right out their window, taking up one entire side of Main Street. But plenty of people don’t know where their nearest prison is. Often, prisons are built intentionally out of sight. The idea of living next to a correctional facility unsettles a lot of people.

Today I came across a great new term: carceral geography. I’m grateful for any resource that helps me visualize data more easily, and I also love maps. So I wanted to share some great projects out there that are working to make the invisible visible, to communicate data in a way that makes it easier to remember that these statistics represent real people and places.

This project is an astonishing gallery of satellite images, of prisons all over the country. This tool lets you look up the location of every correctional facility in the United States, save for those in WA, WV, WI, and WY. And this one lets you create your own maps, compiled from information you’re most interested in about the prison system. So, go explore.

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