Watching the watcher in an eerily deserted cellblock

A Monitor photographer finds himself the one being watched on a visit to a maximum-security prison.

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Photographing at a maximum-security facility was an interesting exercise. The place looked empty and clinically clean. I was escorted through the prison by an officer and a media relations person, and inmates were a rare sight. Understandably, we were not exposed to inmates directly; instead, we had to peek through small openings and windows to get a hint of their elusive presence. I felt like an ornithologist looking for a rare species. We entered a large cellblock with a social area surrounded by dozens of cell doors. The TV was on, the lights were bright, the place was squeaky clean, but it was eerily deserted. I started taking photos of the empty room when I felt something. I looked up. In every small cell window there was an eye trained on me. It was then that I realized I was the rare bird!

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