Prisons

Untitled (Figure) by Adayfi Mansoor, 2016

Guantánamo Detainees Ask Biden to Let Them Keep Their Art

An open letter calls for the reversal of a ruling giving the government ownership of work made in the prison

Adnan Syed, the subject of a 2014 investigation led by Sarah Koenig on the podcast “Serial,” leaves the courthouse after being released from prison.

Adnan Syed, Subject of 'Serial,' Is Released From Prison

The decision comes 23 years after he was convicted for the murder of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee

An inmate firefighter monitors flames as a house burns in the Napa wine region of California on October 9, 2017.

Untold Stories of American History

The History of California's Inmate Firefighter Program

The initiative, which finds prisoners working as first responders and rescuers, dates back to the 1940s

The 15 freed hostages and their rescuers arrive at San José del Guaviare airport in July 2008.

The Daring Rescue Mission That Freed 15 Hostages Held in the Colombian Jungle for Years

A new exhibition at the International Spy Museum revisits Operación Jaque, a covert 2008 plot led by the Colombian military

Ringgold's mural, For the Women's House (1971), showcased earlier at a Brooklyn Museum exhibition in 2017. The painting will be permanently relocated to the museum pending its removal from the Rikers prison complex.

An Evocative Mural on Rikers Island Will Be Moved to the Brooklyn Museum

Faith Ringgold's "For the Women’s House," which sought to inspire female inmates, will be relocated ahead of the jail complex's impending closure

This black metal suitcase belonged to Iku Tsuchiya. It went with her to Tanforan Assembly Center, then to the Topaz camp, and back home to San Leandro, California.

Smithsonian Voices

What Happened to the Homes and Businesses Owned by Japanese Americans After Their Incarceration

75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals were relocated to prison camps during WWII, leaving their properties behind

This 1936 photograph from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery—featuring eight of the nine Scottsboro Boys with NAACP representatives Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Laura Kellum, and Dr. Ernest W. Taggart—was taken inside the prison where the Scottsboro Boys were being held.

Who Were the Scottsboro Nine?

The young black men served a combined total of 130 years for a crime they never committed

Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy are taken in for questioning by Birmingham police in 1962.

Cool Finds

Rare Birmingham Jail Logbook Pages Signed by MLK Resurface After Decades

Two sheets of paper from the Alabama prison where the activist penned a famous 1963 letter sold at auction for more than $130,000

Shortly before the "Night of Terror," suffragists (including Lucy Burns, second from left) protested the treatment of Alice Paul, who was kept in solitary confinement in a D.C. prison.

100 Years of Women at the Ballot Box

Radical Protests Propelled the Suffrage Movement. Here's How a New Museum Captures That History

Located on the site of a former prison, the Lucy Burns Museum shines a light on the horrific treatment endured by the jailed suffragists

Halahtookit, a Nez Perce man, widely believed to be the son of William Clark.

Ask Smithsonian

Are There Native Descendants of the Lewis and Clark Expedition? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

Alcatraz Island, home to the nation’s most notorious pen, 
was the site of a crucial civil rights battle 50 years ago.

Alcatraz's Captivating Hold on History

Fifty years after Native American activists occupied the island, take a look back at the old prison in San Francisco Bay

A Fremont Correctional Facility inmate reading a book on the top bunk of his cell.

Prison Book Bans Are ‘Arbitrary and Irrational,’ Report Finds

PEN America's report coincided with the annual Banned Books Week

Located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz Island is the site of a former prison.

Five of the Most Fascinating Prison Museums in America

From Alcatraz to Cell Block 7, these jails now hold tours instead of prisoners

The Rebecca Salome Foster monument pictured before (left) and after (right) restoration

Long-Forgotten Monument to Prison Reformer Will Be Reinstalled in New York Courthouse

Rebecca Salome Foster was known as the "Tombs Angel" in recognition of her work with inmates housed at a Manhattan prison known as "The Tombs"

London's National Gallery Lends a $4.5 Million Masterpiece to a Women’s Prison

It was the latest stop in an unconventional tour that has brought the Artemisia Gentileschi painting to a school, a library and a doctor’s office

Here's What Al Capone’s Philadelphia Prison Cell Really Looked Like

The mob boss spent nine months imprisoned at Eastern State Penitentiary, and a new exhibition shows his stay was less glamorous than it was portrayed

Alcatraz's recreation yard, where the structures were discovered.

Cool Finds

Radar Scans Reveal Traces of 19th-Century Fort Beneath Alcatraz

Before Capone took up residence, the island was home to military installation that guarded San Francisco Bay

The rate was double what the team was expecting.

Nearly Half of Americans Have a Close Family Member Who Has Been Incarcerated

A new study highlights the sheer scope of mass incarceration in the United States

Egyptian journalists hold posters calling for the release from prison detention of Mahmoud Abou Zeid, in front of the Syndicate of Journalists building in Cairo, Egypt, on December 9, 2015.

More Than 250 Journalists Are Languishing in Prisons Around the World, Report Says

The Committee to Protect Journalists documents the worrying trend it characterizes as the "new normal"

The historic cemetery where remains of 95 individuals, believed to be African American prisoners forced to work on a plantation, were discovered.

Remains of 95 African-American Forced Laborers Found in Texas

The deceased are believed to have been among thousands of black prisoners who were put to work as part of a post-Civil War “convict-leasing system"

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