Welcome to Ohio's Prison System

Welcome to Ohio's Prison System

...Or at least my experience of it in words and pictures. See my blog entries along with photos.

I'll be adding photos for your viewing pleasure.

I'm out here for part2 pictures and their great series Hard Time for National Geographic. This is for season 2 that will air in February and March 2011.

Basketball Waiting

Basketball Waiting
A look inside an outdoor rec cage

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This two-week stint is finally over and I'm home enjoying outside and "free-world" experiences back in NY. Lucasville is an intense place where inmates are constantly under controlled movement. Even those who are not handcuffed and chained when outside their cells, the general population prisoners who wear blue (while the 4b's are cuffed and wear orange), move with only twenty at a time.

This dedication is a direct result of the 11-day riot that happened in 1993 where a correction officer and several inmates were killed. There are 750 correction officers supervising about 1600 inmates.

When on the range we were constantly harangued by screaming inmates demanding attention. They complained about the food (it's terrible and there's not enough of it -- go figure), beatings, innocence and the need to tell their story to the Nat Geo man. Then there was the sexual verbal attacks. And among the worst were the Aryan Brotherhood attacks on Jews, Jews who run the media and won't let the real story of prison out, the Jews who edit the films we make and won't include the real scenes from being put into our shows, etc. Sick stuff. But maybe it's a gross amplification of racism and hatred that is becoming stronger in the free-world.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One Week

Not the great Buster Keaton silent-era film but our first week in on this two week cycle at the Southern Ohio Correctional Institution, Lucasville, Ohio. We've been inside this round for six days. It takes a toll. We hear so many inmates tell us that they are innocent, and I'm sure some are. We hear many tell us that we're being controlled by Jews and Bankers, and that African Americans are, well, I can't repeat what we're hearing. It's disgusting and poisonous. The hatred is truly awful, but sadly what is said hear is not so far removed from what we hear or what is implied in much of the political and ideological rhetoric being spewed forth today by some on the far right. Sad.

This is also a place where some inmates have a tendency to through feces and urine from their cells. That's basically because, so we're told, the inmates can't get at one another most any other way.

This happens in the segregation unit, where inmates are locked down 23 hours a day. It's called 4b, maximum security (5 is the highest rating in the system and is considered super-max.) Here they get, if the "range" or cell tier has been well-behaved, 1 hour of recreation a day, five days a week. They alternate indoor and outdoor rec but in cages. Each block has an upper and lower tier called ranges and their are televisions on the wall blaring sound. But of course they're yelling all day and night anyway. The screaming and banging is actually called "cell banging" again because they can't get at one another (into fights I mean) any other way. So you can cell bang or throw or spray poop and pee. We haven't been hit yet.

The only time they're outside is on the walk from block to the cages and back. But, whenever they are out of their cells they have to be handcuffed behind their backs and ankle chains are put on. They wear orange and white tops that they can take off in the cage and their cell. They all earned their way to Lucasville for violating rules inside.

Crazy world.

Photos will soon accompany this entry! Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday with 1A

Spent the early part of the day outside in wonderful wind, cold, and blowing snow getting exteriors. Then went into the block and worked there from around 1:30p to 7p. Talked with lots of inmates, who after a weekend of fights, seemed to have loosened up to us. Not sure that one had anything to do with the other.

Posting some photos that are illuminating.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Day

We had a lot of snow today in Ohio. By tonight probably 5 inches and it's still snowing. We couldn't get into the prison today because it was a holiday. Instead we braved the weather and shot exteriors.

It was cold, windy, and oh yeah, snowing. We shot tripod and also a bunch of traveling shots from the car. First we set up the tripod in the mini-van (all seats disappear) and locked open the side door. Shot some slomo and high shutter speed. Really interesting look. (We're shooting on the Panasonic 900.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Waiting for snow in Ohio

I thought that I would start a blog so that colleagues, students, friends, family and all can see what I'm up to.

I've been in Ohio since last Tuesday, barely making it in to Columbus from DC and having to wait out another storm Tuesday night. I have one more week of filming, then I head back east!

Well, more snow. 5-8 inches tonight and tomorrow. We'll try to shoot some scenics at Ross Prison. Slomo, high shutter, long lens. I'll post a couple of photos along the way too.

Well back to correcting papers.