Behind These Prison Walls



Solitary confinement series

Behind These Prison Walls  prison series are photographs taken by former New York City Correction officer Lorenzo Steele Jr. The images come from a very violent time on Rikers Island where violent stabbings and cuttings averaged sometimes 40 a month. These very rare photographs were taken from 1989-1998 and are now used to bring awareness to mass incarceration and youth in solitary confinement. 

Images  in  this series are from the  adolescent solitary confinement  unit  on Rikers Island. Inmates in this unit are housed in a 8 foot by 6 foot cell the size a average bathroom. 





This is a cell in the adolescent solitary confinement unit on Rikers Island. the standard size of a cell is 8 feet by 6 feet and inmates are confined in this small area for 23 hours a day. 


 Shower area inside the solitary confinement area. Inmates are allowed to shower one at a time  twice a week. 


 Inmates in the photo are all serving time in the "bing" area . Inmates are allowed one hour recreation as long as they are not at risk of harming other inmates in that unit. 


 Inmates use the toilet bowl to keep their milk and sometimes package meat cool. There are no refrigerators in prison so this becomes a normal practice for inmates.



  This small razor blade is responsible for some of the most vicious attacks on inmates.The razor blade was chosen because it was small and easy to conceal.


 Behind these black steel bars are 33 cells used to house inmates that committed infractions. Many are charged with vicious razor attacks on other inmates and assault on staff.
The inmate that was responsible for cutting this inmate will spend up to three months in solitary confinement.

Inside view of a small jail cell used to house adolescents inmates.

Vicious cuttings like this will get an inmate several months in the "bing". This inmate will be scarred for life and will seek vengeance on the inmate that did this cutting. 



Adolescent looking the the "bing" hole for the camera. Inmates have to lean how to deal with themselves in solitary. With no human contact sometimes a 'friendly" mouse is the only conversation one can have.