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Visual imprints on the prison landscape : a study on the decorations in prison cells.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Lenny D. Baer
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2005
<mark>Journal</mark>Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie
Issue number2
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)209-217
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


While conducting my first research project on prisons, I noticed that some prisoners decorated their cells with massive quantities of bathing products and air freshener. I wondered why. This led to an impressionistic study that drew from visits to six young offender institutions and interviews with 11 prisoners in England. Prisoners and staff gave numerous explanations for such decorations, including: the commodification of everyday items, such as shower gels; social status; the creation of a home environment; the need to fill space; boredom; illegal activity; and the effect of sentence length on the personalisation of space. Michel de Certeau's idea of tactics is applied to the findings as mundane activities used by people in a position of weakness. Other visual imprints in the everyday surroundings of prisoners could also have numerous explanations. This study serves as a beginning for future research on the personalisation and meanings of prison spaces.