So I was visiting a young man behind bars a few weeks ago and saw that there was –let's call him "the prison photographer" — another prisoner — snapping photos of a mother and her kids. They stood near the children's area where there was a TV with a penguin cartoon and a few books and benches. And behind the "set," because that's what it looked like to me, a stage setting, was a mural. Murals in visiting rooms are actually pretty remarkable. In this prison there were several murals on the walls, not disimilar to this visiting room at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania –although not nearly as clean and without tables.
But the images are their own kind of art. And prison murals– well that's a subject for another day — but they are amazing.
So I asked if we could get our picture taken, and OK I wasn't technically a family member but a few nods here and a few nods there and we were standing in front of the Project Youth Mural which was yellows and browns with a big banner across muted people representing the men who speak to schools about their lives — Project Youth. We posed, we smiled, we looked at one shot and then another and we did what everyone does when they get pictures taken — want to make sure it's a good shot.
And then came the kicker. There was gonna be a charge to the prisoner I was visiting. The state was charging the prisoner and oh boy, how much did the photo on that digital camera cost? I am anxious to see the bill to the young man I visit who makes nickels and dimes behind bars and has to buy all his toiletries at the canteen. So, photo or bath soap? And it wasn't exactly like I had five bucks in my pocket in the prison visiting room so I could slip the photographer some money. Plus, he wasn't the one who would be getting the money. I'll have to wait to find out but I'm betting $5.00.
But, overall, I gotta give props to these photo programs, called "Click Clicks" in New York. At least if you're locked up, you can appear happy and transported to a desert isle and freeze yourself in time somewhere in space — with your loved ones.