Photographer Richard Ross has produced an amazing series of images, including the one to the left, documenting the experiences of children in detention facilities in thirty states. A book featuring these photos is forthcoming, and there is a blog with comments by the young people themselves. Please take a closer look at this extremely compelling work — either on his website or the website for the project.
Here is Richard Ross’s introduction:
Juvenile-In-Justice documents the placement and treatment of American juveniles housed by law in facilities that treat, confine, punish, assist and, occasionally, harm them.
The project includes photographs and interviews with over 1,000 juveniles and administrators at 100+ facilities in 30 states in the U.S, as well as facilities in Canada and Mexico. The children’s identities are always concealed, either by photographing them from behind or obscuring their faces.
America’s heavy reliance on juvenile incarceration is unique among the developed nations of the world. Approximately 90,000 young people are in detention or correctional facilities every day in the United States.
The project documents group homes, police departments, youth correctional facilities, juvenile courtrooms, high schools, shelters, Montessori classrooms, CPS interview rooms, and maximum security lock-down and non-lock-down shelters, to name a few. Earl Dunlap, the Director of Cook County Detention Center, welcomed me to his facility with the words: “Welcome to the gates of hell.”
Prior to Juvenile-in-Justice, there was no comprehensive directory of images cataloging the American juvenile justice system. This project is now the primary source for these images, all of which are made available to facilities, advocates, and non-profits. The work has also been used as supporting evidence in front of a U.S Senate subcommittee considering federal legislation about the treatment of juveniles.
The images have illustrated prominent reports nationwide, including several from the Annie E. Casey Foundation regarding juvenile incarceration. A selective list of the non-profits using the work includes Annie E. Casey Foundation, Campaign for Youth Justice, Equal Justice Initiative, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. The work is being shown at university galleries and other venues with social justice missions— including the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw University, Gage Gallery at Roosevelt University, and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives conference.
In the past I have photographed for major magazines, newspapers and institutions. At this phase in my career I am turning my lens towards the juvenile justice system and using what I have learned in 40+ years of photography to create a database of compelling images to instigate policy reform. My major medium is a conscience. My products are unbiased photographic and textual evidence of a system that houses more than 100,000 kids every day.
Juvenile-In-Justice will also be on view at the Nevada Museum of Art in Fall of 2012 and Feldman Gallery (N.Y.C.) in 2013.
© Richard Ross, www.juvenile-in-justice.com