As I was searching through my archive looking for my 1999 photo of Brittney Payton, I started feeling nostalgic for some of my older images.
As the decade of the 2000s comes to a close, I have a feeling we are going to be inundated with lists of the greatest this and the greatest that of the past decade.
I have decided to reach back in time and pull back some of my older stuff to post on my blog.
Everything I show will be primarily from 1998 forward.
I have most of my favorite images from before then but they are all either color or black and white negatives. Maybe if I get really really nostalgic I will scan in some of those “gems” to show my formative years.
This image I am sharing today is from a story titled “A Life and Death Sentence” that was published in December 1998 in the Joliet Herald News.
The original idea of the story was to document the day to day goings-on in the inmate hospital at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois. (No, it isn’t in Joliet like everyone thinks.)
After being given a tour of the operation, I was introduced to a prisoner named Gregory Hill. Hill, was still in the first decade of a 50-year sentence for armed robbery. Years earlier, Hill found the Lord and was called to dedicate his days in confinement to helping the sick and dying in Stateville. He summed it up when he said, “God brought me from the pits of hell to help these guys.”
Hill was given a cell in the infirmary and became a de facto one man hospice unit.
When I met Hill, the story focus immediately changed from the hospital to Hill. All in all, I made 7 or 8 visits to Stateville and came to greatly admire Hill.
To this day he is still one of the most inspiring men that I have ever met.
Half way through my coverage, Hill’s story became even more profound when he revealed that he was HIV positive due to intravenous drug use.
One of the inmates that Hill comforted was David Brown, who was in his final days of full blown AIDS.
I found Hill and Brown’s relationship to be incredibly compelling. The image of Hill carrying Brown like someone one day might carry Hill was far and away the most powerful photo from the story.
After years of trading Christmas cards, I have lost touch with Gregory Hill and often wonder how he is doing.
If this blog entry somehow reaches someone who knows please get in touch with me.
©1998 Scott Strazzante/ The Herald News