Model Prisoner, by Ray Harris

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I chose this specific image because it reminded me of how a positive reaction to an imprisoned person can impact their life. We usually hear about ex-prisoners getting released and having a tough time adjusting to society, and I think that it's because of the labeling theory and the stigma that is attached to incarceration. This particular man gained famed from the discovery of his mugshot from being involved in a gang violence. The public took his mugshot well, and even demanded that he sign a deal with a modeling agency, and he actually got many offers. To this day, he is modeling, and also is dating the heiress to the clothing company “TOPSHOP.” The public’s acceptance of his past records and guidance to a more wholesome path, has allowed this man to thrive in society, and not resort to crimes anymore. I felt that most prisoners want to make a better life for themselves, and even take classes while they are incarcerated to get degrees to assist them for when they are released. However, when in the process of applying for jobs, they are limited to a handful of jobs due to their records, but if society were to look past the stigma and their past they could contribute to society and sustain a life for themselves.


This image of a prison stood out to me because of the emotion of isolation you feel within the walls. Its uniformed throughout with the same cells and the same color splashed across. It made me be able to have a visual taste of what it felt to be a prisoner. The walls are unwelcoming, and everywhere you look is a constant reminder of what one has done to be incarcerated. I felt that this related back to the painting from the Wall exhibit because it shows the amount of reflection a prisoner might do while they are serving their time. One disassociates oneself with society and gets immersed into a world of order and structure, along with a constant reminder of their choices. I think that this could impact a prisoners mental state, and may cause them to either lose their sanity or completely fold into themselves. This ties into the artists description of his painting asking if incarcerating some prisoners really is the answer for their wellbeing.


This photograph is from a series on Russian prison tattoos. This article made me see the prison culture within the Russian prison system. Many of these prisoners have committed fairly terrible crimes and have adjusted to the life of being a prisoner. Each tattoo they obtain while serving their time is symbolic of something. The stars on his shoulders symbolize his criminal status, while the eyes on his pelvis meant that he was a gay man. Russian prisoners wear these permanent badges on their body as they usually have many years in prison or will stay there for life. I thought it was an interesting perspective on prison life compared to that of an American prison. I am aware that prison tattoos are not something new or foreign to the American system, but it just seemed to be a highly accepted and adapted culture in Russia, and a different mentality. The dedication to getting these tattoos also intrigued me because they would scrap materials from essentially nothing, and utilize their own urine to get these tattoos, although some were forced into getting one. For instance, a thief that may have worked with law enforcement would be forced to get a tattoo of a bow on his chest to symbolize his status as a traitor.