Former Inmate Recounts His Time In Lorton Prison

​Established in 1910 in the District of Columbia, the Lorton Reformatory, also known as the Lorton Correctional Complex, in Lorton, Virginia, started as a prison farm. Experiencing severe overcrowding, the prison population swelled with inmates, where black men comprised 98% of the prison population, according to The New York Times.

I was able to interview a former inmate, Michael Nathan, who served some time at the prison. At the time, Nathan referred to the conditions that he and the other inmates lived in as “less than humane.” Nathan said, “If you want them [prisoners] to acclimate to something, you treat them with a little dignity and respect.”

Nathan explained, “I was not here in Lorton’s heyday. God knows I might not be standing here if I was truly here in Lorton’s highest level of corruption. No, but when I was here, it was enough. I saw enough. I went through enough, and I’m sure it was the same thing, just intensified.”

The former prisoner also said that he never once saw a white face in the prison and was stunned by the question of what the black to white ratio population was in the prison. Nathan responded, “What?! The Black to White Ratio? I don’t remember a white face,” claiming that the white population was essentially non-existent.

Since he has been released, Nathan has been making the most of his time, and he and I have worked on a few music videos together under ‘DUB A MEDIA.’

Check out the video to get a firsthand account of what Nathan experienced while incarcerated at Lorton.

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