A few years ago there was a map of the United States displaying one dot for every person in the census, color-coded by race. While exploring this, I found a strangely stark shape about an hour north of where I lived. I figured out that it was San Quentin prison and quickly found other prisons that also stood out on the map. On this map, blue dots indicate white respondents, green represents Blacks, red represents Asian, and orange signifies Hispanics.
I then started blogging about what I found as I delved through the map.
I learned that the Adirondack Correctional Facility was initially a sanatorium for TB patients, then a Department of Health run drug rehab, and then “a camp program for adult inmates”. The facilities were used for Olympic staff during the Lake Placid Olympics, and inmates were temporarily relocated. Inmates worked at the trials prior to the games.
I found pages and pages of friend and family of inmates trading stories and tip on the best times to visit, what to expect, and how to travel out to remote locations that isolate inmates from connects to their old worlds.
I found details about prison "employment", including a maximum wage of $1.15 per hour through a company that uses their prison workforce to boast that their products are Made in the USA.
I found an inmate handbook that spent more ink telling inmates how to avoid sexual assault than describing the consequences for or protections against assault.
For the next phase of this project, I plan to use GIS to analyze locations where the prison population is statistically anomalous from the surrounding area. This will indicate places where the prisons are potentially skewing other demographic studies as well as contributing to gerrymandered voting districts. I may do further research into these facilities' relationships with the local economies.