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Founder and Editor of Prison Photography
Zora J. Murff
9.75″x7.75″, 80 pages,
Edition Size 450
ISBN : 978-1-944005-01-6
Published by : Aint-Bad Editions
Introduction : Off Paper
The extreme cruelties and systematic failures of the United States’ brutal prisons are, at this point, well known. Far from being a solution, mass incarceration in America exacerbated profound social problems, widened the gap between the haves and have-nots and set generations back. We’re starting to think less-and-less of prisons as institutions that solve the behaviors and social dynamics that lead to the state’s need to control. Across the country, prisons and detention centers are now considered a last resort for the disciplining of children. As criminal justice departments employ community supervision more and more, monitoring systems are used more and more. James Kilgore – academic, activist and a man who was once electronically monitored – has described ankle bracelets as “going viral in the criminal justice system.” In 2005, 120,000 people wore an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet; in 2012, the figure was 200,000; and in 2015, we can assume the figure has grown further still. Proportional within the 7 million people under correctional supervision in the United States, a larger percentage of youth wear monitoring devices than adults. Imprisonment is known to negatively impact young minds and bodies far more severely than those of adults and current policy – and carceral logic – deem ankle bracelets a palatable, convenient, and more humane alternative. There are, of course, truths and blind-spots to this logic.
Zora Murff’s Corrections comes at a crucial moment. Electronic monitoring (EM) has come into its own in the age of GPS. Faster, more accurate and more reliable than previously-used radio-based devices, GPS technologies provide the state agencies responsible for managing sentenced and pre-trial citizens with the rhetoric and assurances of security. EM is painted as a more humane, productive and progressive means of social control. Companies such as iSecure, Trac, Secure Alert, Pro Tech, GEO and Omnilink, which manufacture ankle bracelets, also talk up the cost savings to their state and county agency clients. All this to say, that this moment, in which we as a society are turning ever more faithfully to electronic monitoring, is not based solely on enlightened policy based upon enlightened morals and the prioritization of the human, but based also on salesmanship in growth industries and the rhetorical promise of redemption through technology. Corrections is an opportunity to reflect upon what it means to rely on widespread, diffuse, and near total surveillance to correct antisocial behaviors. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to interrogate the outcomes of such surveillance upon larger society and the problems GPS-powered panopticism purports to address. Do ankle bracelets prevent criminal acts? Does EM propel, distract or compliment our investment in educational, economic and healthcare systems, which we know to improve citizens and reduce antisocial behaviors?