Prisons

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"

Elinor Powell (right) with a fellow nurse at POW Camp Florence in Arizona, circa 1944-1945

Women Who Shaped History

The Army's First Black Nurses Were Relegated to Caring for Nazi Prisoners of War

Prohibited from treating white GIs, the women felt betrayed by the country they sought to serve

Court scene: Trial Ziang Sung Wan

The Triple Homicide in D.C. That Laid the Groundwork for Americans' Right to Remain Silent

Decades before the Supreme Court's Miranda decision, a 1919 murder trial presented a precedent for protecting criminal suspects from police overreach

A massive task force—150 full-time personnel from the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service—hunted the Unabomber.

When the Unabomber Was Arrested, One of the Longest Manhunts in FBI History Was Finally Over

Twenty years ago, the courts gave Theodore Kaczynski four life sentences, thereby ending more than a decade of terror.

Johnson pressed his ear to this humble cup to hear the tap code messages of his friend Bob Shumaker in the next cell over.

The Indomitable Spirit of American POWs Lives On in These Vietnam Prison Keepsakes

For seven years an internee at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," Congressman Sam Johnson entrusts his story to the Smithsonian

A woman peers out of a residential complex at the women-only Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, New York, in 2012.

New York Directive Restricts Inmates’ Literature Options

A pilot directive affecting three New York State prisons stipulates that inmates can only receive packages from six approved vendors

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