Prison Valley, 2010
Prison Valley is a story on the industry of punishment, on the Colorado valley « Out of sight, out of mind », which centralises in a few square miles all of America’s contradictions.
From one prison to another, one discovers a real “under-world”. Jails, private sector, benefit, solitude, direct labour, inmates, poverty, crime, always and forever…
Prison Valley is a photographic road-movie in a western city, where people are caught in their everyday routine, in their work, in boredom or pleasure, just like a vivid painting would do in a very still city.
The families, the inmates, the staff of the prison, the sheriff…They all reveal, with reserve, the keys to this world which is theirs.
A foreshadowing of the evolution of our own Prison Society.
Erin Rosa, freelance journalist.
“The major problem of the American penal system today is the number of prisoners. The United States incarcerates one in a hundred citizens. In percentage terms, this is more than in China. A lambda officer, who communicates directly with prisoners, is not allowed to talk to journalists. If he does, he will lose his job.”
Colorado State Penitentiary II (CSP II) is a new prison under construction in the heart of East Canon City, Colorado’s state prison complex.
Katherine Sanguinetti, spokesperson of the Colorado punishment department.
“The prisoners of the Colorado State Penitentiary II will have to follow a very strict program. They won’t receive any visits. Nor calls. Most of the prisoners don’t want to be in their cells 23 hours a day. They will go out for 45 minutes, or an hour, to make some exercice and take a shower. And that’s it. They won’t have any contact with anyone. That’s our version of Supermax.”
Allen Rexford, officer in Supermax and first vice president of the prison branch of the American Federation of Government Employees union, local 1302.
“When the prisoners walk around the yard, they can’t see anything around. The walls, the walls six meters high…They can only see the sky. They don’t see anything familiar around the prison and have no landmark. They don’t know where north is, where south is. This is to discourage any attempt of escape.”
Brenda, prisoner’s wife.
“The people here…it’s mean to say that, but they are rather vulgar. They earn all this money, but don’t take care of anything. Their houses are seedy. If the prison wasn’t there, there wouldn’t be anything or anyone, because they don’t have anything else to offer. The nickname for this region is “Prison Valley”. There is nothing, really nothing here. Without my money, and the money of all the other families, this town would be broke.”