Sarah Bones meets Earl, who has spent the past 50 of his 75 years behind bars.
The story of Earl came about after I finished shooting a project for The Pennsylvania Prison Society. I was documenting social service programs within Pennsylvania’s state prisons and it was at SCI Laurel Highlands where the warden called me into his office and told me the plight of the elderly in the prison system. At the time this state prison held the largest population of elderly and disabled inmates.
I reached out to the empathetic warden about doing a story on the elderly within prison walls but never received any responses from he or his office.
I continued to pursue the story using other contacts and after a year and a half I was granted access to Earl. I had former private detective help me locate Earl and we were able to find him sitting on the park bench in Reading still wearing his prison jacket.
He seemed like he found some level of peace inside the nursing home before he passed away about one year from the time he was released from prison with nothing in his pockets except a bus ticket.
Sarah Bones saved for her first 35mm camera at age 13, in 1969. She immediately hitchhiked into Philadelphia so that she could photograph the lives and circumstances of people living on the street. As a professional photographer and documentary film maker, her passion and courage in telling the stories of people in need continued and has carried her to Africa, across Asia, Guatemala, Cuba and locally, into prisons, homeless shelters and the intensity of political campaigns. She is a member of the collective group Photographers For Hope led by David Burnett and Anna Wang, ASMP Philadelphia and the NPPA.