8 Photos Show What Prison Is Like Around the World
With their overcrowded conditions, disgusting food, and rampant use of solitary confinement, America’s jails and prisons aren’t known for being hospitable. But how does the experience of folks who are locked up in the United States compare with that of the incarcerated in other parts of the world?
Amsterdam-based photographer Jan Banning visited prisons in Colombia, France, Uganda, and the U.S. to find out. He documented what he saw in a new book of photographs and essays, Law and Order: The World of Criminal Justice, which was released in the U.S. last week. Banning discovered that the systems have more in common than one may think, especially when it comes to imprisonment.
“I have become very skeptical of the use of prisons as a sanction,” Banning said in an interview with TakePart. “My big question based on the similarities that I saw in these four countries was, is this really the best way to handle crime?”
The countries chosen showcase two types of criminal justice system: the civil law system, which is used in France and sticks to specific codes and laws written by legislators; and the common law system, which is used in the United States and relies on judges and juries to interpret laws and set legal precedent. Uganda uses the common law system, which was introduced when it was a British colony. Colombia uses the civil law system, which was introduced when it was a Spanish colony. The two were selected to demonstrate how these systems were imposed on countries and adapted after independence.
As the photos show, the problems found in U.S. prisons are common around the world.