Plutarcho Hill has the oldest inmate number, 48713 (most are six digits now), in Oklahoma. He received his number January 16, 1948 after being given a life sentence for murder. Hill has escaped ten times; but, he couldn’t tell me why he was so much better at breaking out, rather than staying out, of prison.
I’ve uploaded the same set of three photos twice. One in b&w and the other in color. I’m curious which you prefer.
I think your preference will say something about the way you view photography. Is it the job of the photographer to capture a story or create a story? If you believe it’s the former, then I think you will prefer the color set as it is closest to the truth. If it is the latter, then I think you will prefer the B&W set because it is more evocative.
Kirkuk, Iraq. February, 2010 — Inside a detention cell in a Kirkuki jail. Arabs say Kirkuk police are mostly Kurdish and that they unfairly and disproportionately target Arabs as part of a plan for Kurds to pull Kirkuk—and its oil—into Kurdistan. Arabs also claim to be the target of a kidnapping campaign by the Kurdish secret police, Asayish, in which Arabs are disappeared into prisons inside Kurdistan. Kurdish officials deny this. I filmed a Fault Lines episode about it: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQtTkGOj-ok
Inmate 223800 — Richard Baker is serving two ten-year sentences for armed robbery. He found God in prison and had a demon tattoo on his arm converted into an angry Jesus. He told me before his conversion, he had been, “runnin’ from God for a long time.” After this photo was taken he was in convicted of two counts of aggravated assault and battery adding 10 more years to his sentence, as well as 10 years probation.
Inmate 48713 — The hands of Plutarcho Hill. He has the oldest inmate number in the state. He was given his number January 16, 1948. He’s serving life for murder. Hill has escaped ten times. He couldn’t tell me why he was so much better at breaking out, rather than staying out, of prison.
Inmate 134826 — Mary J. Rowe is a mother, grandmother, published poet and convicted murderer. She’s serving life at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McCloud, Oklahoma. She’s been given an additional seven years for a successful prison escape as well.
Inmate 94953 — Willie Prenell is serving a life sentence since his conviction of murder in the first degree in May of 1977. He killed Kieth Thompson, who he claims was a friend, on October 21, 1976 in Oklahoma City. Prenell is incarcerated at James Crabtree Correctional Facility in Helena, Oklahoma. Crabtree is a medium security facility strictly for older inmates.
Inmate 96638 — Since suffering a stroke behind bars, Bobby Moore, 58, resides in a special medical unit of the Dick Conner Correctional Center an hour north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s been serving a life sentence since his murder conviction in 1978.
Inmate 126209 — Leonard Mikes told me he was a US Marine who trained Hmong in Laos during the Vietnam War. Now he’s incarcerated at James Crabtree Correctional Facility in Helena, Oklahoma. He’s serving a 200-year sentence for forcible sodomy with a seven-year-old boy. He claims innocence. He has been convicted three previous times for lewd or indecent acts or proposals to a child and once for indecent exposure. Crabtree is a medium-security facility strictly for older inmates.
These tougher sentences have led to a boom in elderly inmates in US prisons. The fastest growing segment of prisoners is those who are 50 and older. In Oklahoma they expect that group to increase by 45% a year for the foreseeable future. For the Fault Lines episode above we gained access to prisons across the US and were shocked by what we found…
I’ve posted this once before, but I’ve gained a lot of followers in the last few weeks and with the Troy Davis story in the headlines today, it seemed relavent to put it out there one more time.
Feel free to share your thoughts about the episode. I’ll do my best to respond to every reply…
Last year Fault Lines traveled to Oklahoma where we gained access to death row:
To interview condemned inmate Michael Selsor:
We were Michael’s first visitors in more than ten years. He told us last June that he would see “this Christmas, but probably not next.” His last appeal was denied in October, so now he’s waiting for a date to be executed.
We also interviewed a number of families that have been effected by murder and had to deal with the death penalty in different ways.
It was one of the more difficult films I’ve been a part of. I cried during three of the interviews. They are stories and people I will never forget.
The result is an episode, of which I am very proud, on an extremely complex and gravely important story.