As the system of prison control known as super custody collapsed at the Washington State Penitentiary, there was nothing to take its place. Frustrated and afraid, many correctional officers quit. Most of those who didn’t quit, simply looked the other way.  As one inmate put it, “We were so much in control of the prison that a lot of guards didn’t have an opportunity to really do much with us…. When help was needed, that’s when they were called. I can’t even really remember them walkin’ around too much.”

Concrete Mama – the Book

In August 1978, photographer Ethan Hoffman and his journalist friend, John McCoy, quit their paying jobs at the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin to do an in-depth study of the biggest story in town, the Washington State Penitentiary. The result of their work was the iconic book, Concrete Mama, Prison Profiles from Walla Walla. In this video, Ethan Hoffman talks about making Concrete Mama against a backdrop of images from the book.