A prison in the City

Looking out on the world around us

< image © Mélanie Bouteille.

— “Speakers’ Corner” Series, Season II (2)

Hidden prison, modern prison, dilapidated prison, “open” prison: wall to wall, Prison Insider investigated the links between city and prison. In partnership with Rescaled, we gave a number of different people a space to share their point of view.

Modern prison facilities are located on the outskirts of cities, away from the prisoners’ families, and they are extremely difficult to access.

Catherine Rechard is a photographer and documentarian who has been working on prisons for more than 15 years. She offered Prison Insider two perspectives on the relationship between the city and the prison. In this first article, she revisits her intentions for her documentary Une prison dans la ville.

Film overview

Cherbourg jail is located in the very heart of the city. It is adjacent to the court house, close to the cultural centre, library, and theatre, and has a view of low-income housing. The film examines how each sphere views the other.

Une prison dans la ville
52 mn, Zarafa films, 2008.

Placing prisoners far away keeps them out of mind and exonerates the public from having any responsibility for them.

Every Thursday, the market lends its own unique smells and sounds to the prisoners, making them feel as if they are still part of society as a whole.

Like the crumbs of life on the outside, the temporarily inaccessible society is still in sight.