Companies like Jpay lobby hard to be the exclusive conduit for remittances from prisoners' families to the inmates, taking a huge rake off the top of funds sent to pay for essentials like warm clothes, medical care and food.
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When Putin and the Kremlin throw a charm offensive to distract people from the popular uprising in the Ukraine and the institutionalized homophobia in Russia, it's good news for dissidents and former billionaires. Russia's Stalin-loving strongman has extended amnesty to Pussy Riot, the Greenpeace 30, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky (formerly Russia's richest man, who fell into Putin's bad books and onto hard times).
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BBC News on a remarkable jailbreak
: "CCTV footage captures Derrick Estell fleeing from the prison in Garland County before making off for the car park." He outran his pursuers and is still at large.
The image above left is a photo backdrop in the visiting room at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in New York. It's one of many unusual paintings found in prison visiting rooms around the United States. Their function is to make family photos more pleasant. Alyse Emdur photographed these scenes and compiled images sent by inmates into a book, titled Prison Landscapes. Above right, James Bowlin holds a fake
trout bass at the US Penitentiary in Marion Illinois. BLDBLOG posted an interview with Emdur.
Fantastical scenes are actually much less common—from what I gather from my correspondence, realism is like gold in prison. That’s the form of artistic expression that’s most appreciated and most respected, so that’s often the goal for the backdrop painter.
"Captive America: An Interview with Alyse Emdur
Prison Landscapes (Amazon)
Matthew Matagrano, 36, a former inmate, was charged saturday with impersonating a New York Department of Correction investigator. The convicted sex offender inveigled his way into Manhattan Detention Center and other lockups, according to officials, and handed out cigarettes
. He also allegedly stole a radio. [Indy]
In 1975, photographer/filmmaker Bruce Jackson, who has spent decades documenting prison life, was visiting Arkansas' Cummins Unit, a state prison farm. While there, he stumbled upon a drawer filled with old prison ID photos snapped between 1915 and 1940. Jackson recontextualized these as a unique form of portraiture in his book "Pictures from a Drawer." Accidental Mysteries posted a collection of these striking images.