See the following photographs and it may seem like an ode to grandmothers. These women, though, aren’t at the corner beauty shop. They’re prison inmates.
The name of the exhibition: Prisoners of Age (POA).
Where you can see Prisoners of Age from July through December 2015 is, fittingly, the New Industries Building of San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island.
Here, 60 works (both visual and narrative) of photographer Ron Levine and designers Michael Wou and Russel Volckmann feature aspects of crime and punishment, incarceration, freedom and social justice.
Mostly, though, POA opens one’s eyes to what life is like for aging offenders in the correctional system. To give the world entrée into this world, Ron Levine spent 18 years photographing geriatric residents of prisons and prison wards in the United States and Canada.
Some enlightening stats about prison life for the elderly:
“Prisoners of age comprise the fastest growing age group in the United States. One-in-ten inmates is 55 or older. A decade ago, that was one-in-twenty. Existing prison space is in serious decline and medical costs are soaring.
Incarcerating geriatric men and women in prison is becoming prohibitively expensive- up to 9 times the cost of a younger inmate.
As Federal and State prisons begin to look more like high security nursing homes, the people who manage North America’s prison system worry about how to handle the imminent explosion in the geriatric population.”
“Through photography and interviews, ‘PRISONERS OF AGE’ offers a microcosmic glimpse of what lies ahead in this new millennium.”
The POA exhibition has traveled the globe. The idea of seeing it in Alcatraz adds an element to these stories that goes beyond thought-provoking.
POA is open to the public visiting Alcatraz Island during daytime hours for no extra charge. Exhibit hours are 10 am to 2 pm. For additional information, please call NPS Alcatraz at 415-561-4900.
Tickets to Alcatraz frequently sell out many days in advance. They are only available through Alcatraz Cruises, the official park concessionaire for ferry service, 90 days in advance: alcatrazcruises.com or 415-981-7625.
To learn more about POA, visit http://prisonersofage.com.