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Supermax Prisoners In Solitary Were Given One Photo Request — This Is What They Asked For

If you were held in the hole for years, what one image would you want to look at?

Posted on November 18, 2013, at 4:21 p.m. ET

Prisoners held in solitary confinement are confined to small, often windowless, cells for 22 to 24 hours a day. They suffer extreme isolation and sensory deprivation, in conditions that even the United Nations has denounced as torture.

Prison-rights group Tamms Year Ten asked inmates locked in a supermax (super-maximum security) prison outside of Chicago what photos they'd like to have to hang on their walls. They could be of anything — real or imaginary — and they would find artists on the outside to fulfill the request.

Though Illinois prison policy prohibits the prisoners from hanging the photos on their walls, the images offer motivation, escapism, a view to the outside, and just a way to combat loneliness for the inmates. The photographs capture the sensory details they miss. For outsiders, it's a view into what they are thinking about all day.

Here are some of the requested images:

My Auntie's house on the block at 2 p.m., facing east

Chris Murphy / Via and

"Let the people outside know that the picture is for 'D-man,'" Darrius, the prisoner, told Tamms Year Ten.

A specific stained-glass window

Greg Ruffing / Via and

The Chicago skyline

Scott Fortino / Via and

South King and 63rd on the South Side of Chicago

Jason Reblando / Via and

A photograph within a photo of me and wild lions

Jesse Avina / Via and

The Michael Jordan statue

Greg Ruffing / Via and

Lovesick clown

Lisa Barcy, Harry Bos and Stephanie Barber. / Via and

Specific request: "A lovesick clown: holding a old fashioned feathered pen: as if writing a letter: from the waist up: in black and white. As close up as possible: as much detail as possible: & the face about 4 inches big."

My mother, who died last year, with a pile of money, a hummer, and a big castle

Jeanine Oleson / Via and

The Puerto Rican flag

Thais Llorca / Via and

The Masonic Temple

Allan Callander / Via and

Downtown Christmas tree

Claire Pentecost / Via and

The Navy Pier

Charlie Simms / Via and

Genesee Street in Downtown Waukegan, Ill.

Colleen Plumb / Via and

The boat scene from the "Jenny from the Block" video, with Ben Affleck and J. Lo's butt

Danny Orendorff / Via and

The members of Tamms Year Ten fighting for the men at Tamms

Tom Bluett / Via and

A vigil at Bald Knob Cross held for the inmates

Rachel Herman / Via and

Several men asked for photos of themselves, taken from their online Department of Corrections photos, placed on a different background, to send to their families.

Angela Jimenez / Via and
Laurie Jo Reynolds / Via and

A boy and girl, in their Sunday best, sitting side by side on a piano bench, with a single rose on the keys

Karen Rodriguez / Via and

The prisoner asked for the photo as a present for his wife.

Several requested images of what the area where Chicago public housing project Robert Taylor Homes used to be, and what it looks like now

Greg Ruffing / Via and

Where Robert Taylor Homes used to be

Greg Ruffing / Via and

Where Robert Taylor Homes used to be

Greg Ruffing / Via and

Where Robert Taylor Homes used to be

Greg Ruffing / Via and

A friend who will write me

Jennifer Henry / Via and

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.