The Number of Puerto Ricans in US Prisons is a Mystery

The correctional classification system doesn’t have the exact number, but for the first time, the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo got a sample that allows us to look at this historically invisible population.

September 13, 2023

Photomontage por Ricardo Rodríguez | Centro de Periodismo Investigativo

In the past, stepping inside meant a prison sentence. Nowadays, at least 60 people with paid tickets in hand line up to enter the Eastern State Penitentiary of Pennsylvania. It is September 3, a 90-degree, clear-sky Sunday afternoon. Before the summer’s Twilight Tours end, this is one of the last chances to stare at the correctional institution at sunset.

An exhibition displays in its interior. It includes objects, photos and sound recordings of the prisoners, guards and employees who lived in this immense structure, considered one of the first modern prisons in the world. Inside the corridors and archives of this prison, which was active from 1829 to 1971 in the heart of the city of Philadelphia, you can see that the Puerto Rican population imprisoned in the United States has always been invisible.

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