Prison Map is a project developed by Josh Begley, a graduate student studying Interactive Telecommunications at New York University. Thanks a small script and geo-coordinates, he obtained a google earth snapshot of each of the 4,916 incarceration facilities in the United States. Let’s recall here that a bit less than 2.5 millions people are living in prison in this country. Such a project illustrates therefore a sort of hidden urbanism in which 0.8% of the American population live for a given time. Of course, these photographs are interesting to observe the architecture of incarceration, but more importantly in my opinion, is the relationship they develop with their direct environment as they illustrate a geography of exclusion.
Many of these facilities use the obvious strategy of remoteness to engage this will of exclusion. In this regard, from the cartographic point of view, they often ironically appear similar to European palaces with well-ordered classical plans. Others are situated on islands (like Rikers in New York) or piers in order to use water as a buffer zone between the included society and the excluded one. Finally, others are situated in the center of some cities like the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago (see previous post) or the Brooklyn Detention Complex using the verticality of their architecture to implement the exclusionary status.
The page Prison Map is only displaying 700 facilities for convenience reasons but the 4,216 others can be seen by following this link. Josh Begley also have another page entitled Prison Count which establishes a photographic inventory of California State Adult Prisons. In addition, you can also consult an old article about the book Forms of Constraint
The following pictures are extracted from the Prison Map project: