Self-taught photographer, writer and filmmaker Danny Lyon is considered a revolutionary in the field of documentary photography. This piece is part of Conversations with the Dead, a groundbreaking series of photographs Lyon took from inside penitentiaries controlled by the Texas prison system. After falsely claiming to be conducting a historical study for LIFE Magazine, Lyon convinced prison officials to give him unrestricted access to photograph any aspect of prison life with the exclusion of death row. Although his work was published in 1971 with the full cooperation of the Texas Department of Corrections, the photographs were later introduced as evidence by the U.S. Justice Department in a massive lawsuit against the Texas prison organization, which led to widespread system reform. “To some, he’s idealizing people who really are not good at all – they’re just criminals,” said professor Larry McMurtry, who was teaching at Rice University in Houston at the time, “But to Danny maybe they’re good people who just never had a chance.” Many critics still consider this series his most powerful work.