AGU's Eos features Ufuoma Ovienmhada in "Satellites Map Environmental Vulnerabilities in U.S. Prisons"


Ufuoma Ovienmhada et al,

Ufuoma Ovienmhada

by Danielle Wood

Jan. 9, 2024


Satellites Map Environmental Vulnerabilities in U.S. Prisons

Geoscientists are using remote sensing to gather data on risks including increased exposure to air and soil pollution, excessive heat, wildfire, and flooding.

By Kimberly M. S. Cartier

11 December 2023

Incarcerated people in the United States face disproportionately more environmental hazards than the overall population, a pattern of environmental injustice referred to as prison ecology.

Although efforts to recognize environmental injustice have grown in recent years, prisons have been largely overlooked, said Ufuoma Ovienmhada, a graduate student in remote sensing science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “Most people don’t think about prison, period, and even those who think about prison have not always heard about the issue of environmental injustice,” she said. “It’s still underreported and underdocumented.”

Now, researchers are using remote sensing data, supplemented by on-the-ground reports from currently and formerly incarcerated people, to uniformly define the scope of environmental vulnerability across the carceral landscape.

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