Milanowski — whose work is in the permanent collections of MoMA and other museums — gave us permission to publish the images. He took the photos between 1982 and 1986 in prisons in Walpole, Mass., Ionia, Mich., and Jackson, Mich.
The early and mid-1980s were a time when prison populations were exploding. Milanowski’s photos, some of which appear in the book “Duplicity” he worked on with Bob Tarte, provide a vivid look into an experience that has become all too common in America.
“Americans very much ignore prisons and prison life — unless they live near a prison where the prison is the source of some level of local employment. Americans seem to only take notice of prisons when there is a problem, an escape, a prison disturbance (that receives national media attention), or when there is some breakdown in the system,” Milanowski told the Prison Photography blog.
Milanowski added: “I think photography can help — and be an effective tool in informing the public about prisons and who inhabits American prisons; but, I’m not sure at all that our society wants to look at prisons and prison life … it’s too easy to ignore.”
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