When Paulo Demetrick, a 29-year-old federal prison inmate in Virginia, was asked, “If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?,” his mind began to race. After 11 years behind bars for robbery, how could he think of just one photograph?
At first, he thought of his childhood, moments with friends and family. But it didn’t feel like enough. He sat in his cell for five days obsessing over the image. In the end, he chose a Bestway supermarket.
“At Bestway I learned to mingle with and learn from people of all walks of life,” he wrote in his request.
When Mr. Demetrick received the image, he was ecstatic. Apart from the store’s name changing from Bestway to Bestworld, the supermarket was exactly how he remembered it. “It has been over a decade and with the D.C. area having so many changes over the years I was glad this supermarket survived,” he said.
The image still hangs on the bulletin board next to his bed.
The photo — a reminder of what was and may still be — was done as part of “Windows From Prison,” a huge initiative that the cultural organizer Mark Strandquist started in 2012. He has posed the same question to hundreds of prisoners who had been convicted as juveniles in the Washington area but were later dispersed to federal prisons nationwide.