Photos of Mental Illness from a Kentucky PrisonJenn Ackerman has taken some fantastic black-and-white photography in a Kentucky prison. The photos depict the raw life of prisoners who are also dealing with mental illness. Because as the government has repeatedly cut back on funding mental health treatment, guess where the really sick people go?

They end up in prison, usually for repeated petty crimes or drug abuse. And society, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that spending 4x to 5x the cost of keeping the person in prison is “better” than simply getting them into a drug abuse treatment program.

“When I went on the tour (of the prison), I didn’t see it in color; when I came back, I was trying to remember what it looked like, and I couldn’t remember any of the colors at all,” Jenn Ackerman told Slate. “I knew there was something so gritty and raw.”

“The system designed for security is now trapped with treating mental illness and the mentally ill are often trapped inside the system with nowhere else to go,” Ackerman notes on her website.

Indeed, that’s true. And perhaps such inspiring imagery can help remind all of us that these fellow human beings deserve dignity and treatment — not bars and discrimination.

The photos are well worth your time.


Check out the Slate article for the images and their stories: “Trapped” documents the line between mental illness and security in a Kentucky prison

See the photos: Trapped – The photo reportage by Jenn Ackerman