Photos of insane prisoners at Kentucky State Reformatory’s psychiatric unit

Here’s a haunting look at what life is like on the inside for some of Kentucky’s prisoners suffering with mental illness. Photographed by Jenn Ackerman, this collection of pictures was run by Business Insider and documents life in Kentucky State Reformatory’s psychiatric unit.

And here’s a few facts that accompany the images: The psych unit started out with just 13 beds in 1998 but grew to 150 by 2008. While the ACLU found that prolonged isolation exacerbates mental illness, many inmates are stuck in cells for 23 hours a day. In September NBC reported that suicide killed more inmates that homicide, overdoses and accidents combined. Pretty harrowing stuff.

UPDATE: Here’s a sneak peek at our exclusive interview with Jenn Ackerman.

We know you got the inspiration for your series, Trapped, after reading an article about the mentally ill in prison. But what made you decide to really go for it?
After I had spoken to the warden about the project, he asked that I come and check it out before we committed to anything. I knew the project was interesting to me but that tour solidified my desire to work on it. I was able to see how sick the men were and it allowed me to care about them. At that moment they were just a statistic but real men with real stories.

Via Business Insider

Kentucky Inmate looking through glass
Kentucky Inmate looking through door
Kentucky Inmate reaching through door
Kentucky Inmate sitting in cell
Kentucky Inmate standing in room

About the author

Rachel Oakley is an Aussie writer based in NYC with an obsession for the creepy, cool and quirky side of life. Some of her main passions include philosophy, art, travel, and sarcasm.

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