Every aspect of modern life is documented on Instagram—people photograph their guns and stolen cash, their horrific drug abuse episodes, and their attendance at funerals. People expand their “personal brands” through Instagram, they document their consumption of luxury goods, they even use the app to sell sizzurp. Just about the only images missing from Instagram are photos of the insides of America’s prisons.
Smart phones aren’t allowed inside penal institutions, and most of the time the only cameras that get access to such places belong to reality TV shows approved by prison authorities. The closest Instagram comes to the prison-industrial complex is selfies young women have taken in parking lots, in cars, in bathroom mirrors having just done their hair—shots hashtagged with the facilities they're about to visit (#rikers or #sanquentin) and sometimes also with what they're wearing (#michaelkors) or how they're feeling (#tooearlyforthis).