The Americans: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

Danny Lyon: Turn of the Century Brownstone Apartments, Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Life on Bond Street in Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Boy Against Yellow Platform, Kosciusko Swimming Pool, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: Children at Reis Park, a Public Beach in Brooklyn, 1974

Danny Lyon: People Watch Boats on the East River, Manhattan Bridge and NYC in the Background, 1974

The Americans: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

A Brooklyn Summer, 1974 is a beautiful collection of vintage photos of Brooklyn taken in the summer of 1974 by photographer Danny Lyon, and the vintage tone of these summertime photographs makes everything look so much hotter. Lyon spent two months snapping pictures of the daily life in the borough, exploring Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Green, Park Slope and other neighborhoods. Lyon captured the photographs of inner-city life while on assignment for Documerica, a project of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970s.

Born in 1942 in Brooklyn, Danny Lyon received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1973. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lyon made a name for himself covering life in Chicago’s impoverished Uptown neighborhood and the Southern Civil Rights movement. Lyon went on to give the world three incredible works: The Bikeriders, in which he chronicled his travels as a member of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan, documenting the large-scale demolition of our country’s greatest city back in 1967, and Conversations with the Dead, in which he photographed and wrote about Texas inmates in 6 different prisons.

Lyon’s work has been frequently exhibited and collected; he is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and National Endowment for the Arts grants in both film and photography.

You can read more about Danny Lyon’s work in The New York Times here.

The Museum of Photographic Arts: A Look at Danny Lyon

Photo-Gallery: A Brooklyn Summer, 1974

(Please Click Image to View Photo-Gallery)

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Trapped: Mentally Ill Persons in Our Nation’s Prisons and Jails

Photography by: Jenn Ackerman

Trapped: Mentally Ill Persons in Our Nation’s Prisons and Jails

The continuous withdrawal of mental health funding has turned jails and prisons across the U.S. into the default mental health facilities. A report in 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice showed that the number of Americans with mental illnesses who are incarcerated in the nation’s prisons and jails is disproportionately high. Almost 555,000 people with mental illness are incarcerated, while fewer than 55,000 persons are being treated in designated mental health hospitals.

The problem with the mental health system in our country did not spring up overnight. “There was a shift in the way our society sees mental illness,” says psychologist Dr. Stephanie Roby. “We saw a fallout from the 1960s when we were institutionalizing everyone. Society reacted by saying the community needs to be more responsible for these individuals.”

The goal was to reduce the number of mental health patients housed in large government-operated, public psychiatric hospitals by shifting their care to local communities where programs would be created to handle their special needs. “It was a great idea in theory,” says Dr. Roby. “Unfortunately, mentally ill people do a lot of inappropriate things, they are misunderstood and they commit crimes….” As a result, they then have ended up as inmates in our country’s prisons and jails, rather than receiving treatment in mental health facilities.

Even worse, as the prisons and jails in our country have become the dumping ground for mentally ill people, we will end up simply replicating what happened in the 1960s when they just warehoused mentally ill persons in large public psychiatric hospitals and then sent them back onto the streets to fend for themselves.

The documentary video that is presented below was produced at The Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, Kentucky. “We are the surrogate mental hospitals now,” said Warden Larry Chandler. With the rapidly rising number of mentally ill prisoners, the reformatory was forced to rebuild a system that was designed for correctional security. It was never intended to be a mental health facility. However, by necessity mental health treatment has quickly become one of its primary goals. Unfortunately, this situation is not unique to Kentucky. The continuous withdrawal of mental health funding has turned jails and prisons all across the U.S. into the default mental health facilities.

Mentally Ill Prisoners at The Kentucky State Reformatory

Video by: Jenn Ackerman

You can read more about Jenn Ackerman’s project studying the treatment of mentally ill persons in the nation’s prisons and jails here.

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