Photo via Jean Vaillancourt/Getty (Licensed)
Being incarcerated in the United States means facing the trials and travails of a life in prison as well as the oft-difficult reintegration back into free society. Pervasive stereotypes and stigmas remain—even once the imprisoned are out―about those who end up behind bars.
But human lives and experiences aren’t always so easily packaged and boiled-down to assumptions. To the contrary, they’re usually packed with complexity, uncertainty, and even artistry. That’s what the Everyday Incarceration Instagram account has been highlighting for years.The product of Zara Katz and Lisa Riordan Seville, the account currently boasts 75,000 followers—and it’s a virtuosic example of the “photo essay” form.
Katz and Seville also curate an Everyday Incarceration page on Medium, which adds rich, new details about some of the photos, while also highlighting comments from those who’ve experienced the correctional system—either first-hand or through the imprisonment of their loved ones.
A huge part of the impact and the beauty of the photo essay format comes in the spaces that are unspoken and unwritten, allowing the viewer to fill in the emotional and contextual gaps of the pictures. Everyday Incarceration uses this to great effect, whether to show the circumstances of life on the inside, or the impact that incarceration has on friends, family, and loved ones.
As it stands, an absolutely staggering number of Americans are living their lives in prison. According to Amnesty International, despite accounting for just five percent of the world’s total population, the U.S. is home to more than 20 percent of the world’s prison population.Whether through images of the incarcerated themselves, or their families on the outside, Everyday Incarceration paints a vibrant and essential picture of American lives that too often go overlooked.