Prisoner in front of backdrop
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Prison escapes: A collection of portraits from behind bars

30 January 2014 Last updated at 00:05 GMT

Alyse Emdur first saw a makeshift prison portrait studio when she visited her brother in a prison as small child and took a photo with him in front of a beach scene.

"It made us feel more comfortable showing our friends the picture," she says. "We could say, 'this is our brother,' instead of saying, 'this is our brother in prison.'"

Years later she corresponded with prisoners across the US in an effort to understand what they felt when posing in front of often hand-painted murals showing scenes of escape.

She collected those photos, as well as her own of the colourful murals set in their grim institutional contexts, for her book Prison Landscapes.

Emdur talked to the BBC how the photographs show America's incarcerated from their families' points of view.

Produced by Taylor Kate Brown and Ashley Semler; edited by Bill McKenna.

Picture This is a series of video features published every Thursday on the BBC News website which illustrate interviews with authors about their new books.