|Time:||1:00 PM - 2:00 PM|
|Location:||UNO Campus, CPACS Commons|
Acclaimed photographer Ron Levine, whose multi-year “Prisoners of Age” project is drawing attention to the issue of an aging inmate population in North American prisons, will speak at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Public Affairs & Community Service (CPACS) on October 29.
The appearance came about after Professor and Department of Gerontology Chair Julie Masters, Ph.D. met Levine when he spoke at a gerontology conference in Denver. His visit to CPACS is part of the Dean’s Initiative to promote social awareness and educational opportunities at the college.
“One of the best ways to learn about an issue is to go outside a textbook and witness how it affects specific groups of people,” says CPACS Dean John Bartle, Ph.D. “Mr. Levine’s remarkable photographs and interviews have been able to put a human face on the subject of North America’s aging prison population.”
Levine began photographing and interviewing older inmates and corrections personnel in the United States and Canada in 1996. The work resulted in an exhibit and 208-page companion book titled, “Prisoners of Age.”
The first exhibit took place on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco in 2000. Originally intended to last several weeks, it was held over for six months and was seen by more than a million visitors.
The exhibit has since traveled to many other major cities and is scheduled, in a much larger format, to return to Alcatraz in 2015.
In a telephone interview from New York, Levine said he has visited 18 different prisons, some of them more than once. “I’ve met probably thousands of inmates,” he said. “I have binders and binders of film, from back before I began using digital equipment.”
He said his first prison trip was sparked by a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio segment about aging inmates in Alabama. “I learned about this hidden world that I had no idea existed,” he said.
An initial curiosity and a trip to that Alabama prison eventually turned into “Prisoners of Age.” “It was a personal photography project that has gone far beyond where I’d ever thought it would go,” he said.
He said the purpose of his book and exhibition is to raise awareness to conditions faced by and resulting from an aging prison population, issues that include overcrowding, the high cost of caring for older inmates and the human dimension of growing old in prison.
“It’s been incredible to see how deeply touched people have been by these photographs and interviews,” he said.
His presentation at UNO will utilize audio and video to tell some of the stories from the inmates he has photographed. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held in CPACS 132, at 1 p.m.